Retroperitoneal Lymph Node Dissection

If there is evidence that cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes in the abdomen, surgery to remove them may be recommended. This is performed under a general anaesthetic. An incision is made into the abdomen and the lymph nodes are removed.

Surgery may take from 3-6 hours. A stomach tube will be passed through your nose (naso-gastric tube) to stop your stomach becoming bloated. This is usually removed after surgery. A urinary catheter (link to catheter sheet) will be passed into your bladder through your urethra (water-pipe) and will usually be removed after 24 hours.

Surgery can sometimes affect the nerves that control the discharge of sperm through the penis (ejaculation) which will reduce fertility (link to fertility). The sperm will not be released by the penis and will flow back into the bladder via the urethra, or water pipe. You will therefore be advised to consider storing sperm before surgery.

After Surgery

  • Painkillers should be taken as prescribed on a regular basis.
  • Surgery can cause constipation which may increase pain, so you should eat a high fibre diet and drink 2-3 litres of water-based fluid a day to help prevent this. Mild laxatives can also be prescribed to help.
  • You should try and walk upright without stooping. You may feel tired, but gentle exercise will speed up your recovery. Ideally you should go for a walk – gradually increasing the distance. This will also reduce the risks of clots forming in your legs. With time you should gradually increase the amount of exercise. Cycling and swimming are fine but heavy lifting or vigorous exercise should be avoided for up to 6 weeks. This will allow your abdominal muscles to heal and reduce the risk of tissue pushing out from the wound (incisional hernia).
  • You will require a blood thinning drug, usually an injection, which you will need to inject into your body. This will reduce the risks of clots forming in your legs.
  • You should not drive for 3-4 weeks following surgery because you may not be able to stop effectively in an emergency.
  • You should be able to return to work after 4 weeks, but this may need to be longer if you have a particularly physical job.
  • Sexual intercourse can be resumed once you feel well enough.
  • You should notify your doctor or medical team as soon as possible if you notice any prolonged redness, inflammation or leaking fluid from the wound site or feel as if you have a high temperature, bad cold or flu which could be signs of infection.

    We hope you found this information useful. If you would like to submit your own advice based on your experience to help other men, please comment below. Comments will be kept anonymous, but where possible and we would like to share them with other orginisations who are trying to improve the care and support for anyone affected by testicular cancer.

    Reviewed 1/2024