Mrs.Girish an active homemaker had always been healthy and full of life. As a 67-year-old able housewife from Kadapa district of Telangana, she had a set routine: morning walk, running household chores, cooking cleaning, socializing and a long telephone chat with her son every night. Her son had moved to Bangalore and like any doting mother, she would be worried about his well being. Lately, however, it was the son who was getting worried for his mother.  He was worried that very often she would be down with a bad stomachache.

Mrs.Girish would intermittently have stomach aches. Initially she thought it was something that she was eating which was not right, however, the pain started getting severe and started affecting her daily routine. After ignoring and putting it off for long she finally visited a local doctor at Kadapa who thought it was gastritis.  “To be honest, we were relieved after this diagnosis and thought that medication for it will relieve her of the pain”, Mrs.Girish’s son, Srinivas confided. However soon she was suffering from stomach cramps throughout the day. This is when her son got really worried and contacted

Symptoms can be deceptive

my-healthconnect put Srinivas to a Dr.Sasanka Vishnubhotla, a Senior Urologist at Kondapur, Hyderabad. (Kondapur is in Hyderabad, 500 km from Kadapa, a distance that was reduced to a few seconds, just a click away. ) The doctor on studying the primary investigative reports advised her to come to Hyderabad. On examining Mrs.Girish and getting the right MRI reports, the doctor realized that her problem was a defunct kidney!

Kidney and Stomach ache – what’s the connection

Before we try to understand the connection between stomach ache and kidney related problems. Let’s take a quick lesson on how our kidney’s function.

Getting to know our Kidneys

Kidneys are a very important pair of our organs that are a part of the urinary system as also the excretory system . Their function is to filter the blood of its waste and maintain a balance in the internal system of the body. It is the kidneys that produce urine and maintain the level of minerals in our body. They also produce hormones that control blood pressure and influence a number of circulating red blood cells. When kidneys stop doing their work effectively the symptoms start showing.

One very clear but misunderstood symptom is stomach pain like in the case of Mrs.Girish. The accumulated waste in the body builds up causing stomach pain. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, lethargy, swelling and confusion. Inability to remove potassium from the bloodstream may lead to abnormal heart rhythms and sudden death. Initially, kidney failure may cause no symptoms.

There could be various causes behind defunct kidneys and treatment of the underlying disease may be the first step in correcting the kidney abnormality.

A few preliminary tests are required to proceed with the treatment and, the urology surgeon decides on the basis of results from any of the following tests:

  1. CT Scan (Computerized tomography) – a specialized X-ray technology that
    produces images of thin cross-sectional views of soft tissues

  2. MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) – which uses a magnetic field and radio
    waves to produce cross-sectional views or 3-D images

  3. Ultrasound – an image of soft tissues produced with the use of sound waves

Going back to Mrs.Girish

Coming back to the case, the doctors at KIMS advised all the above procedures. The results showed that one of Mrs.Girish’s kidney was completely defunct and needed immediate attention. The doctors felt that the most appropriate step was ‘nephrectomy’. Before we go further let us understand what is nephrectomy?

What is Nephrectomy?

Nephrectomy is the removal of a defunct kidney. Being in a pair, removal of one of the kidneys does not impair the body in any way. The first nephrectomy is 150 years old and therefore it is apparent that the procedure is safe and much practiced. The need for removal could arise because of any reason such as disease, injury, malfunction, failure, cancer or for donation.

Thousands of nephrectomies are performed every year in India.

They are of four types – partial, radical, bilateral and donor. Partial nephrectomy consists of removal of only the injured or diseased portion of a kidney, whereas in radical nephrectomy the entire kidney along with a part of the ureter, the adrenal gland and fatty tissue around it are all removed. Bilateral nephrectomy is when both kidneys are removed simultaneously. When healthy kidney from a donor has to be removed for transplantation the procedure is called donor nephrectomy.

Types of Nephrectomies

Nephrectomies can be done in two ways – open and laparoscopic. Open nephrectomy, now more and more rarely done, is done under general anesthesia. A cut is made in the abdomen or on the side of the abdomen, the ureter and blood vessels are cut, the kidney is removed and the incision is closed. Another newer procedure is minimally invasive and is called laparoscopy. A laparoscope is passed through a series of small incisions in the abdominal wall, which is then used to see the abdominal cavity and perform the removal – whether partial or radical. Laparoscopic surgery has many advantages in that being faster recovery, lesser blood loss, a lesser possibility of complications and a shorter stay in the hospital. But not all hospitals are equipped with this facility and not all patients can be operated laparoscopically.

The condition of the patient needs to be fairly good to be able to perform laparoscopy.

In the case of bilateral nephrectomy, the patient will be put on dialysis and a transplant is recommended at the earliest possible. The risks in receiving a kidney from a donor to the health of the patient are very small, the reason being that a thorough check is done to evaluate the donor. Chances of any complications are less than 0.02%. People live long and healthy lives even with just one kidney, just like Mrs.Girish.

Mrs.Girish undergoes Laparoscopic Nephrectomy

Coming back to the case, the doctors at KIMS advised a ‘laparascopic nephrectomy’, through which they would remove the defunct kidney which was causing stomach pain.  She underwent the procedure at the KIMS Kondapur facility.

Recovery after surgery is quite normal and Mrs.Girish had to stay in the hospital for about a week. A catheter was put in the bladder for a couple of days after surgery. Fluids and blood pressure were monitored constantly. After a stay of up to a week in the hospital, she could return home and carry out light activities at home.

By the end of the second week, Mrs. Girish returned back home in Kadapa. She can now go about doing her daily chores around the house. Her son is happy that any untoward situation was averted due to early detection and treatment. Moreover, the whole ease of carrying out the treatment has left a lasting impression on her son, who hopes that just like him, others from smaller cities liked Kapada can benefit from His short feedback can be seen below:

A procedure like a nephrectomy, but handled so well despite the logistical difficulties!

Given the age of nephrectomies, the only difficulty, in this case, was the location differences between the concerned people – the patient, the caregiver, and the doctor. These were eradicated by

Otherwise, nephrectomies have emerged as routine and safe procedures.

Read your signals right and reach us for any queries

Mrs.Girish listened to her body and then got the right treatment done in time. A lot of people can cure themselves of chronic diseases if they read their symptoms well and take the proper required treatment.

If you did like to get answers to any of your symptoms just write to us or upload your reports on my-healthconnect. We will get back to you with the preliminary diagnosis of the problem. If you’d like to write to us with any queries or doubts, please post it to us by registering with We will get you connected with our eminent panel of urology specialists.

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Take care and stay healthy!