What is the function of the kidneys?
Our kidneys are responsible for purifying our body by extracting urine from our blood. It does this by filtering about 1 500 litres of blood and converting it into approximately 1.5 litres of urine per day. This means that about 1 200ml of blood flows through both the kidneys per minute, generating 1ml of urine each minute.
The urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through two thin tubes of muscle – one located on each side of the bladder – called ureters. The bladder will store all deposited urine until it is filled to capacity, at which point it signals the brain to make the individual aware that they need to urinate. Urination occurs through a tube called the urethra, located at the bottom of the bladder. Men have long urethras while women have short ones.
When your kidneys are not functioning properly, you may experience some of the symptoms below.
Common symptoms of kidney diseases include:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Passing of only small amounts of urine.
- Swelling, particularly of the ankles, and puffiness around the eyes.
- An unpleasant taste in the mouth and the smell of urine on the breath.
- Persistent fatigue or shortness of breath.
- Loss of appetite.
The kidney diseases we treat
Kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma) is one of the top 5 commonly diagnosed cancers in men and the top 6 to 7 in women. While the incidence of kidney cancer is increasing, there is also an increased rate of early cancer detection thanks to the common use of cross-sectional imaging obtained through ultrasound, CAT and MRI scans. The earlier cancers are detected, the more treatment options are available to the patient.
Kidney treatment procedures
Dr Lance Coetzee has performed a number of kidney procedures to prevent the spread of kidney cancer in patients. These include both partial and complete nephrectomies, which involve the surgical removal of a part of one or both of the kidneys.
A partial nephrectomy (nephron-sparing surgery) involves the removal of a cancerous tumour or diseased tissue by a surgeon with as much healthy kidney tissue as possible remaining.
A complete (radical) nephrectomy involves the removal of an entire kidney by a surgeon while you are under general anaesthesia. A urinary catheter, a small tube that drains urine from your bladder, will be inserted before you undergo surgery.
Dr Coetzee offers the following treatment options through robotic surgery:
Robot-assisted partial nephrectomies
By using a robot during surgery, an experienced surgeon like Dr Coetzee is able to perform high precision surgery and conduct a minimally invasive surgical procedure like a partial nephrectomy while at the same time offering an improved surgical experience for his patients. This is because robotic surgery allows for better dexterity, precision and control during surgery and eliminates the need for large abdominal wounds and the complications thereof.