Kidney Cancer

What to Expect After Surgery

Immediately after the surgery you will be taken to the recovery room and transferred to your hospital room once you are fully awake and your vital signs are stable.

  • Post-operative Pain: Pain medication can be controlled and delivered by the patient via PCA (patient controlled analgesia) whereby you control the delivery of your own medication by a pump that is inserted through a small catheter in your back called an epidural. Alternatively, pain meds can be administered by the nursing staff though injection or orally. You may experience some minor transient shoulder pain for one to two days that is related to the gas used to inflate your abdomen during laparoscopic surgery.
  • Drain: You can expect to have a small drain coming out of an incision in your back over the kidney area for approximately 2 days. This will drain blood tinged fluid and urine. If persistent drainage occurs, you may have to go home with the drain and have it removed in your doctor's office 1 to 4 weeks following surgery.
  • Stent: You may have a ureteral stent in place coming from the kidney to the bladder to drain the kidney. If placed this may remain in place for 2 to 6 weeks.
  • Nausea: You may experience some nausea related to the anesthesia. Medication is available to treat persistent nausea.
  • Urinary Catheter: You can expect to have a urinary catheter. This will be placed in the operating room while you are asleep and will remain in place for approximately two days after surgery.
  • Diet: You can expect to have an intravenous catheter (IV) in for 1-2 days. (An IV is a small tube placed into your vein so that you can receive necessary fluids and stay well hydrated; in addition it provides a way to receive medication.) Most patients are able to tolerate ice chips and small sips of liquids the day of the surgery and regular food the next day. Once on a regular diet, pain medication will be taken by mouth instead of by IV or injection.
  • Fatigue: Fatigue is common and should start to subside in 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Incentive Spirometry: You will be expected to do some very simple breathing exercises to help prevent respiratory infections through using an incentive spirometry device (these exercises will be explained to you during your hospital stay). Coughing and deep breathing are an important part of your recuperation and help prevent pneumonia and other pulmonary complications.
  • Ambulation: On the day after surgery it is very important to get out of bed and begin walking with the supervision of your nurse or family member to prevent blood clots from forming in your legs. You can expect to have SCD's (sequential compression devices) along with tight white stockings on your legs to prevent blood clots from forming in your legs.
  • Hospital Stay: The length of hospital stay for most patients is approximately 2 days.
  • Constipation: You may experience sluggish bowels for several days or several weeks. Suppositories and stool softeners are usually given for this problem. Taking mineral oil daily at home will also help to prevent constipation.