For some patients with kidney cancer or a benign kidney tumor, a partial nephrectomy may not be possible due to the tumor’s size or location. In these cases, a different type of robotic kidney surgery known as a robotic radical nephrectomy may be performed, in which the entire kidney is removed. This minimally-invasive procedure offers patients many of the same advantages as a robotic partial nephrectomy, including less trauma on the body and a shorter recovery time than open surgery.
As with a partial nephrectomy, the robot’s camera and instrument-bearing arms are inserted through several small incisions and the abdomen is then filled with gas. The colon is moved away from the kidney, and the artery, vein and ureter leading to and from the kidney are stapled or clipped shut, permanently cutting off the kidney’s blood supply and halting urine flow. The surgeon then releases the kidney’s attachments to nearby organs and structures, and the kidney is removed through one of the incisions.
Less trauma and scarring and faster recovery than open surgery. Compared with open surgery, robotic kidney surgery uses smaller incisions and doesn’t require cutting through muscle or bone, resulting in less scarring and trauma to the patient and a faster recovery time—typically just 2 weeks, as opposed to 6 to 8 weeks for the open procedure.
Robotic radical nephrectomy provides a three-dimensional view. Unlike laparoscopic surgery, which utilizes a two-dimensional video monitor, robotic kidney surgery permits a three-dimensional view of the operative field and allows for a much wider range of motion of the surgical instruments, making it easier to perform the complex surgical maneuvers required in this procedure.
Robotic surgery makes it easier for the surgeon to perform a lymph node dissection. In certain scenarios, a lymph node dissection is required in addition to removal of the kidney. The lymph nodes of the kidney and ureter are located on and next to the great blood vessels of the body, the aorta and vena cava. With its increased maneuverability and scaling of motion, robotic kidney surgery facilitates the surgeon’s ability to perform this complex dissection around these vital structures, compared with standard laparoscopy.
Our surgeons have been using robotic kidney surgery to perform radical nephrectomies since 2005, putting us among the most experienced physicians in the New York area at this procedure.