Patients & Visitors



Kidney Cancer Surgery

Laparoscopic radical nephrectomy

We remove the majority of kidney cancers by "keyhole" (laparoscopic) surgery.  The Royal United Hospital is a specialist centre for laparoscopic surgery.  The surgeon uses a telescope inside the abdomen to see and work without the need for large incisions.  This has the advantage of a quicker recovery and return to normal activities.

Patient Leaflet: Having a Laparascopic Nephrectomy

Open surgery

Occasionally we need to perform the surgery in a more traditional manner through a large incision.  This does mean a slower recovery but is necessary for some larger tumours.

Patient Leaflet: Open Radical Nephrectomy

Partial nephrectomy

Instead of taking out the whole kidney some smaller tumours are amenable to partial nephrectomy which is removal of the tumour only, without taking out the whole kidney.  This does have an increased risk of bleeding at the time of surgery but has the benefit of preserving as much kidney tissue as possible.  This is particularly important in patients with only one kidney or preexisting kidney disease.  It can be done as a keyhole or open operation.

Because of the complex nature of this surgery, patients who are having partial nephrectomy are referred to Southmead Hospital for their surgery.

Please see the separate patient information sheets for more details on these operations.

Other Surgical Treatments

In patients with small tumours, especially those who are unfit for a major operation, there are further options for treatment:

Radiofrequency ablation

Heat is used to destroy cancer cells.  It can be done with sedation (drugs to make you feel drowsy) and local anaesthetic rather than general anaesthetic.  It is done with the aid of a scan to guide a needle-like device into the tumour


Very cold temperatures are used to destroy the cancer cells.  This is normally done under general anaesthetic. Probes are placed into the tumour which then freezes it

These treatments are available in Bristol.

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