Some patients who have chronic kidney stones or recurrent infections may develop a poorly functioning kidney, which causes chronic pain or recurrent infections. This may necessitate the removal of the kidney to alleviate the patient's symptoms and infections. This operation has traditionally been performed through a large incision in the side or the abdomen, which is associated with considerable pain and discomfort postoperatively. However, this operation can now be performed laparoscopically, using four or five 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch incisions made on the abdomen. Through these incisions small tubes are inserted into the abdomen, through which a telescope instrument and dissecting instruments can be passed to perform the removal of the kidney by tying off and cutting the blood vessels and ureter to the kidney. The kidney is then placed in a specially designed bag, inserted inside the abdomen. With the kidney in the bag, the opening of the bag is drawn out through one of the small incisions and the kidney is broken up inside the sac and removed in pieces.
The laparoscopic removal of the kidney has less pain after the operation compared to the open operation to remove the kidney. The hospital stay is usually 1-2 days. The recovery time, and time to return to regular activities, is usually 2-3 weeks following the surgery.