John J Bauer, MD, FACS John J. Bauer, M.D.

Urology Services, Inc.
G-1121 West Hill Rd.
Flint, Michigan 48507
Tel: 810.232.8888
Fax: 810.232.9190

Partial Nephrectomy
Surgery Details

General information
Pre-operative instructions
Risks and Complications
Detailed Surgery Description
Family waiting instructions
Post-operative instructions

Printing tip: If you want to print only one portion of this entire document, you should be able to do this depending on your software. To print a selection, highlight the section you want to print using your mouse, then click on print, and then in the print menu, choose "selection."

Terminology tip: If you come across words you don't understand, look them up in the On-Line Medical Dictionary?.

General Information

This procedure is performed to remove small kidney cancers if found incidentally or larger tumors if the patient has marginal renal function that would require dialysis if an entire kidney is removed. This operation is called renal sparing since it only removes the cancer and a 1cm rim of grossly normal kidney. The tumor would have to be positioned in an area amenable for this type of operation. The very large centrally located cancer is usually difficult to remove, however, if required a heroic attempt would be made. However, if leaving cancer or proceeding would be life threatening then it is aborted and a radical nephrectomy is performed (removal of the entire kidney). If you have two normally functioning kidney's and no disease that would put your kidney's at risk in the future it is best to do a radical nephrectomy since there is a 8-9% risk of synchronous kidney cancers, especially if the tumor is greater than 4 cm in diameter.

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Pre-Operative Instructions

Your pre-operative appointments

Before your surgery, you will be seen by the physician and the anesthesiologist, and when applicable, there is a pre-admission appointment with the hospital. Click here to read more details about these appointments, referred to as the Pre-Operative Work-Up.

Change In Health Status

Notify your surgeon if you experience any significant change in your health status: develop a cold, influenza, a bladder infection, diarrhea, or other infection, before your surgery.

Pre-Operative Medication Instructions

Unless specifically instructed otherwise by your surgeon or anesthesiologist, please observe the following guidelines for taking your medicines before surgery:

  1. One Week Prior to Surgery:
    - STOP all aspirin and all aspirin-containing medicines (e.g., Anacin, Excedrin, Pepto-Bismol). Check any cold or pain medication bottles to make certain aspirin is not contained. See additional list at Blood Thinners.

  2. Two Days Prior to Surgery:
    - STOP all nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (e.g., etodolac [Lodine], fenoprofen [Nalfon], ibuprofen [Advil, Motrin, Nuprin], ketorolac [Toradol], maproxen [Aleve], meclofenarnate [Meclomen], mefenamic acid [Ponstel], naproxen [Anaprox, Naprosyn].

  3. Day Before Your Surgery:
    Start the pre-operative Bowel Prep (cleansing procedure) appropriate for this surgery, as described below.

    Your operation occurs near the bowels so your preparation involves an intermediate-level bowel prep, as follows.

  4. On the Morning of your Surgery:

Pre-Operative Diet Instructions

Unless specifically instructed otherwise by your surgeon or anesthesiologist, patients of all ages must observe the following diet restrictions before surgery:

  1. Eight hours before the Scheduled Start of your Surgery:
    DO NOT EAT any solid foods, including juices with pulp (e.g., orange juice, nectars), lozenges, candy, chewing gum, and mints. DO NOT DRINK full liquid, such as milk, cream, and jello. You may continue to drink up to eight ounces of clear liquids until SIX hours before the scheduled start of your surgery. Clear liquids include Water, clear juices (e.g., apple, grape), black tea and black coffee.
  2. Six hours before the Scheduled Start of your Surgery:
    DO NOT TAKE anything by mouth except for your usual medicines; follow the Preoperative medication instructions above.
  3. Exceptions:
    DO NOT TAKE anything by mouth for eight hours, except for your usual medicines, if you are pregnant, morbidly obese, or are diagnosed with diabetes, renal failure, or stomach acid reflux with heartburn.

Patients undergoing operative or diagnostic procedures involving sedation are required to refrain from eating, drinking or taking anything by mouth for a stated period prior to their surgery or procedure. The reason for this is to prevent complications caused by nausea or vomiting while you are unconscious. Should you vomit while in the unconscious state, the risk exists that the vomit may enter into your lungs causing serious complications such as pneumonia. These complications may result in an extension of your hospitalization following your surgical procedure. It is for this reason patients are often instructed to have nothing by mouth after midnight the night prior to your operation unless otherwise instructed by an anesthetist.

Pre-Operative Cleaning Instructions (bathing and showering instructions)

Pre-operative showers are to be taken the night before and the morning of surgery just prior to your arrival. All adults are required to take a shower using either a Betadine or Hibiclens Surgical Scrub antibacterial soap. The reason is to remove as much bacteria from your skin as possible prior to your surgery. If you are allergic to these products please notify your physician or nurse. Perform your shower as follows:

  1. Generously lather your body, scrub well, and rinse. Give particular attention to the area were the incision will be made for your procedure.
  2. Following the morning shower, do not apply creams, body oils, lotions, perfumes, deodorants, makeup, lipstick, nail polish or any other cosmetic product to the skin or nails.
  3. Do not use Hibiclens on your face. You may use any other antibacterial soap for the face.
  4. Children under 5 years of age are to be given a bath using an over the counter antibacterial soap.

On The Day Of Surgery

The anesthesiologist will discuss with you the anesthetic most appropriate for your medical condition and procedure prior to surgery.

After your surgery you must be escorted/driven home by a responsible adult. You may take a taxi car or shuttle if accompanied by a responsible adult who can stay with you after the driver departs.

Time To Arrive For Your Surgery

During your Pre-Admission Interview, our Registered Nurse will provide you with the correct time to arrive for check-in prior to your surgery.


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Risks and Complications

The risks and complications for this surgery are described in the "Counseling and Pre-Op Note" that you will need to sign before the surgery. The main content of that note is listed below.


Patient was found to have a mass of the kidney (benign or malignant) with CT characteristics suggesting malignancy. The tumor is in an anatomical location that permits renal sparring surgery. Size criteria, clinical staging, and metastatic work-up (blood work, CT Abdomen, bone scan and CXR) are supportive of this procedure. This procedure is being performed for cure, yet to spare as much renal parenchyma as possible to prevent the development of chronic renal insufficiency in the future.


Alternatives include laparoscopic procedure in an experienced surgeons hands, observation with serial CT scans, removal of the entire kidney.


The risks and complications of the procedure where extensively discussed with the patient. The general risks of this procedure include, but are not limited to bleeding, transfusion, infection, wound infection/dehiscence, pain, scaring of tissues, failure of the procedure, potential injury to other surrounding structures, deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolus, myocardial infarction, heart failure, stroke, death or a long-term stay in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Additionally, mentioned were the possible serious complications of the anesthesia to include cracked teeth, airway damage, aspiration, pneumonia, spinal head-ache, nerve damage, spinal canal bleeding and malignant hyperthermia. Your anesthesiologist will discuss the risks and complications in more depth separately. Additional procedures may be necessary.

The specific risks of this procedure include, but are not limited to: possible need to remove the entire kidney with possible future dialysis and or transplantation required, late hemorrhage, urinary fistula, possible need to place ureteral stent or percutaneous drainage to correct the fistula, chronic hypertension, recurrence of the tumor in the future, failure of the procedure requiring adjuvant immunotherapy, renal obstruction, and a 10% chance of developing a renal tumor in remaining kidney, positive surgical margins requiring further surgery to remove more tissue or entire kidney, pleural effusion, pneumothorax requiring chest tube placement post-operatively and partial loss of a rib.

You understand the procedure, general and specific risks as discussed and agree to proceed with the procedure. You also understand that not every possible complication can be listed in this counseling note and additional risks are possible, although unlikely.

To view the actual printable form for this surgery, click here: Counseling Note for Partial Nephrectomy. To print the document, simply select print after you have opened the page. You can use that copy to sign before your surgery.

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Detailed Surgery Description

Terminology tip: If you come across words you don't understand, look them up in the On-Line Medical Dictionary?.

Indications: Patient with renal mass.

Sample Procedure Dictation:

The patient was given general anesthesia with an epidural, placed in the flank position making sure there were no pressure points on the legs and the elevated arm. The patient was prepped and draped in the usual standard sterile manner. A skin incision was made between 11th and 12th rib from the posterior axillary line to the mid-clavicular line anteriorly. The subcutaneous tissues were sequentially divided with bovie dissection. All three muscle layers were incised in a similar fashion until we encountered the 11th / 12th rib. The periosteum was elevated with the bovie the entire length of the incision. Care was taken not to injure the neurovascular bundle under the rib. The rib was elevated and then removed with the bone cutters. The cut end of the rib was blunted with the raspers and plugged with bone wax.

Care was also taken during this maneuver not to enter the pleural cavity.

The pleural cavity was entered during the rib dissection without consequence. It was identified and then closed with 3-0 chromic sutures. At the end of the case once skin closure was accomplished, the air was removed using a red Robin catheter held under water. Hyperventilation, deep breathing and suction were used to remove the pneumothorax. A post-operative chest x-ray was obtained and noted not to have a significant pneumothorax.

The kidney could be palpated without difficulty. Gerota's fascia was identified and with a combination of blunt hand dissection and sharp scissor dissection for area's more adherent, the kidney was isolated. All bleeders were identified and either coagulated, clipped or tied with 3-0 vicryl free ties.

The adrenal gland was also removed with this procedure.

The adrenal gland was noted to be left behind with no evidence of bleeding.

Attention was directed to the identification of the ureter inferiorly. The ureter was dissected free and isolated with a yellow vascular loop. The ureter was then bluntly dissected superiorly to encounter the renal pelvis. Attention was focused on exposing the renal pedicle anteriorly first, then the pedicle was exposed posteriorly. The vessels were palpated gently to rule out any evidence of tumor thrombus. During the dissection, anteriorly and medially the peritoneum was encountered and care was taken not to enter the abdominal cavity. Once the vessels were identified, they were tagged with a red and blue vascular loop. The renal artery loop was used as a Rommel tourniquet to control the renal blood flow during the resection of the renal mass. All tributaries to the artery and the veins were then individually isolated tied or clipped and then cut. The entire kidney was then inspected and noted to be free from attachments. The pedicle was noted to be fully isolated.

The kidney was then enclosed in a plastic wrap and surrounded with slush for 10-12 minutes of cooling time. The renal artery was temporarily clamped with a bulldog clamp to prevent excessive bleeding. This was used for no more that 30 - 45 minutes at a time before the kidney was allowed to be revascularized.

Gerota's Fascia was then entered and the capsule of the kidney was identified the area of the lesion was isolated with a generous amount of per-renal tissue attached to the mass. The mass was circumscribed with 1 cm margins with the bovie. With quick blunt dissection using the scalpel handle, the mass and a 1cm margin of normal tissue was removed. This was sent for permanent section pathology evaluation. The bed of the defect was then sutured with 2-0 vicryl sutures. The defects blood supply was flashed, momentarily, by removing the bulldog clamp and large venous and arterial bleeders were then coagulated or sutured. The entire bed was then coagulated. The defect was filled with Gel foam thrombin and the capsule was sutured with 2-0 vicryl sutures over buttresses of dry Gel foam. A section of peri-renal fat was also sutured over the area for added protection from bleeding. A 10 MM Jackson-Pratt drain was placed in the peri-renal position and taken out through a separate dependent stab wound. It was secured with 3-0 nylon suture. The area was irrigated with copious amounts of saline and all bleeders were identified and coagulated. The wound was then closed in a three-layer fashion using #2 PDS interrupted running sutures. The layers closed were the internal oblique muscle fascia, external muscle fascia and then Scarpa's fascia. The subcutaneous tissue was approximated with 2-0 vicryl sutures and the skin closed with staples. Each layer was irrigated prior to closing the next layer. The wound was cleaned, Xerofoam gauze was placed and 4x8 bandaged were secured with tape. The Foley catheter was secured. Patient was then awaken from anesthesia without complications and transferred to the Recovery Room (RR). The patient arrived to the RR in stable condition and without complications.

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Family Waiting Instructions

To the family and friends of patients undergoing surgery.



You should plan to check in at the waiting area information desk as soon as your family member or friend has left for the Operating Room. This is the only way we can talk to you afterwards, or on occasion; reach you to give you updates on the operation's progress. If the surgery is scheduled for many hours, you can leave to eat or do other things, but you should let the information desk know that you are going to leave the area, where you are going, and how long you might be gone so that we might reach you if need be. You should be in the area before the elected time of the end of the operation.

The information deck will overhead page you or the "family of" when they receive the recovery call to let you know that the surgery has been completed. The overhead page system works ONLY on the Surgical Waiting Area and not throughout the hospital or the cafeteria.

We will plan to see you in the surgical waiting area after we have safely completed the early phases of the post-anesthesia recovery in the "Recovery Room" or PAR (Post Anesthesia Recovery). This may take up to an hour after the initial call. Sometimes, especially if another case is ready to start, we will call and talk to you. If for some reason, we have not come or called within 30 minutes, please ask the information desk to page us.

Your family member will be in the Recovery Room for 1-2 hours. This is standard recovery time, although the times vary with each individual. For example, spinal anesthetics take longer to "wear off," local anesthetics are much shorter acting. Under no circumstances are family members or friends allowed in the recovery room. The information deck will inform you of the patient's return to the room as soon as they receive the information that the patient has left recovery. At that time, they will give you the room number and direct you to the correct wing and floor.

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Post-Operative Instructions


  1. No heavy lifting (more than 15 lbs.) for 4 weeks (1 week for an implant).
  2. No driving for 3 weeks (1 week for an implant). We also discourage riding in a car since the vibrations and movement may cause bleeding.
  3. Use the stairs infrequently. Take one step at a time, and have assistance available.
  4. No long trips for 3 weeks.
  5. No cutting the lawn, shoveling snow, raking leaves, etc., for 4 weeks.
  6. No sexual activity for 6 weeks after surgery.
  7. No manipulation of the prosthesis
  8. Showers after the bandages are removed (48 hrs) are okay. It is okay to wash the wound, do not rub the wound just pat dry it. Avoid tub baths or swimming in a pool for 1 week.
  9. Regular light activity is encouraged several times daily. We encourage walking. Do not be a couch potato.
  10. If discomfort returns then reduce activity, take it easy, and more gradually resume activities.


  1. Drink plenty of fluids. We recommend 24-32 oz over your usual daily fluid intake. Limit fluids after 6 PM. Avoid tea, coffee (including decaf) and pop.
  2. Resume a regular diet at home. Take high calorie supplements if appetite is poor.
  3. If you have a special diet secondary to Diabetes, Renal Disease, Liver Disease, etc. you may resume eating when tolerated.


  1. Please take the medications as prescribed by your doctor. Start them on day of discharge, and please complete the entire prescription. Take pain medication only as needed. Try Tylenol or Motrin for milder pain. You will typically be discharged with your old medications and new pain medication, antibiotics and stool softeners
  2. Resume all medications you normally took before surgery, unless instructed otherwise. Do not take blood thinners or aspirin products for 1-2 weeks or as directed.
  3. If there is a problem taking or getting the medication, call us.

Catheter and Wound Care

  1. Do not remove the dressing from the wound unless instructed. If you are home with a bandage, it is usually removed after 48 hrs.
  2. Your sutures will dissolve over time and do not need to be removed. Your steri-strips will fall off over a two-week period; please let them fall off on their own rather than removing them. You can trim the edges of the steri-strips that have rolled up onto themselves if they bother you.
  3. You may cover the wound with gauze if there is mild drainage.
  4. If the wound becomes red, inflamed, or has excessive drainage, please contact your doctor immediately.
  5. If you notice pus coming from any wound, please call your physician.
  6. Expect some spotting or bleeding from your incision for the next 1-week, if it progressively worsens then please call your physician.
  7. If you have a catheter in place, wash around it gently with soap and water. Keep the catheter taped to your thigh or abdomen to avoid inadvertent jerking or pulling. Do not disconnect the catheter from the drainage bag unless directed by your doctor. You may apply Bacitracin ointment at the point the catheter enters your body.

Bowel Movements

  1. Do not strain when having a bowel movement. Expect irregular bowel habits after surgery until fully recovered. Increase fiber in your diet.
  2. You may need to use a stool softener or laxative. Try Colace (Docusate Sodium), Metamucil or Milk of Magnesia at your local pharmacy.

When to Contact your Doctor

  1. Excessive bleeding or passage of large clots. Also if you feel your bladder is not draining or if you are unable to urinate.
  2. Fevers greater than 101º F, excessive chills.
  3. Nausea and vomiting or inability to keep down fluids.
  4. If you have any questions or concerns that are not covered by this handout.
  5. Significant tenderness or swelling in the legs, chest pain, shortness of breath.
  6. If it is a serious emergency, go the Emergency Room or call 911.
  7. Please call the office to arrange your follow-up appointment.

Contacting Your Physician

Dr. Bauer can be contacted by calling the number listed at the top of the page. You may also call the hospital to have them contact us. Please do not hesitate to call with any questions or concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions after surgery

This section is under construction.

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