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A doctor explains open partial nephrectomy to a patient

An open partial nephrectomy is a type of surgery that is commonly performed to address renal cancer by removing a portion of a kidney through an incision created in the abdomen.

For certain patients, this procedure may be an alternative to a more extensive open radical nephrectomy, which involves the complete removal of a cancerous kidney, and sometimes the adrenal gland situated above it, along with the surrounding lymph nodes and fatty tissue. The optimal approach for a patient is determined based on the type, size and extent of the cancer and the patient’s overall health. In general, a urologist will preserve as much kidney function as possible.

In cases where renal cancer is small and localized, an open partial nephrectomy can potentially be just as effective as an open radical nephrectomy. This approach may also be recommended for a patient who has kidney failure or a condition that affects the noncancerous kidney.

When performing an open partial nephrectomy procedure, a surgeon will typically:

  • Insert a urinary catheter, which will remain in place during the surgery and for a short time afterward as the patient recovers
  • Create an incision on the patient’s side or abdomen, usually between the lower ribs on the side of the affected kidney
  • Temporarily occlude the blood vessels that supply blood to the affected kidney
  • Remove a tumor along with a margin of surrounding healthy (non-cancerous involving) tissue
  • Repair the kidney with sutures
  • Reinstate the blood supply to the kidney
  • Close the incision

Patients who elect to pursue an open partial nephrectomy or another type of surgery to address kidney cancer can receive outstanding treatment from the fellowship-trained surgeons in the Genitourinary Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center.

In addition to extensive surgical expertise, Moffitt offers a robust clinical trials program through which our patients have opportunities to benefit from the very latest treatment options that are discovered through our ongoing research. As our scientists and clinicians continue to develop and evaluate promising new surgical techniques, we are improving the standard of care for all current and future kidney cancer patients.

Medically reviewed by Brandon Manley, MD, Department of Genitourinary Oncology.

If you’d like to learn more about kidney cancer treatment options, including an open partial nephrectomy, the multispecialty team at Moffitt can answer your questions and recommend an individualized treatment plan for you. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. Referrals are not required to consult with our expert oncologists.