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Effect of Nephrotomy on Renal Function and Morphology in Normal Cats


  • Funded by a grant from the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association.

  • Presented at the ACVS Veterinary Symposium, San Diego, CA, October 2005.

  • Dr. Zimmerman-Pope's current address is Dallas Veterinary Surgical Center, Dallas, TX.

Address reprint requests to Michael D. King, BVSc, MS, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, VA–MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Duck Pond Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24061. E-mail:


Objective— To assess effects over 12 weeks of bisection nephrotomy on renal function, size, and morphology in cats.

Study Design— Controlled, randomized, blinded experiment.

Sample Population— Ten adult female cats.

Methods— Glomerular filtration rate (GFR), determined by quantitative renal scintigraphy using 99mTechnetium-diethylenetriamine-pentaacetic acid, urinalysis, urine culture, and ultrasonographic measurement of renal size were performed preoperatively. Left or right nephrotomy (5 cats/group) was performed. Total and individual kidney GFRs were determined at 2, 28, and 84 days, ultrasonographic measurements at 28 and 86 days, and ultrasound-guided biopsy at 86 days.

Results— No significant differences in mean GFR and kidney size of operated versus unoperated kidneys were observed. Individual GFR and renal size of all except 1 cat remained within normal limits. Two cats had evidence of transient ureteral obstruction in the immediate postoperative period. No significant, generalized histologic abnormalities were observed.

Conclusions— Bisection nephrotomy in normal cats does not adversely affect renal function or morphology during the initial 12 weeks.

Clinical Relevance— Bisection nephrotomy can be safely performed in normal feline kidneys without causing a significant deleterious effect on renal function. Studies in cats with pre-existing renal insufficiency are needed to ensure adverse effects would not occur in clinical cases where this surgical procedure is warranted.