Minimally Invasive Kidney Procedures

The George Washington University Hospital has a strong minimally invasive focus when performing surgeries. Procedures are much more advanced than they were 10 years ago and the risk of suffering serious complications after surgery is quite low.

Over the past few years, GW Hospital has invested significantly in expanding minimally invasive surgical approaches for kidney-related diseases such as tumors, cysts, kidney stones, reconstruction of urinary tract anomalies, stricture disease and removal of poorly functioning kidneys (noncancerous).

There are four types of minimally invasive approaches:

Laparoscopic Procedure – Developed as a less-invasive alternative with a quicker recovery and a more favorable cosmetic result when compared to the traditional open surgical approach. Several small puncture wounds are placed in the abdomen. A telescope is placed allowing the surgeon to operate using a video system.

MIS Kidney

Robotic procedureRobotic Procedure – This approach is similar to the laparoscopic approach except that two or three robotic arms are placed inside the patient to assist with the surgical procedure. These arms are small and can move in directions not possible with standard laparoscopic instruments. This approach is not necessarily helpful for all kidney procedures but may be helpful for some reconstructive procedures.
Learn more about robotic surgery >

percutaneous procedurePercutaneous Procedure – Rather than using surgical instruments, the area of concern in the kidney is reached through a single puncture wound through the skin. Instruments or probes are passed into the kidney using x-ray (ultrasound, CT or fluoroscopy) guidance. This avoids the need for any major incision and allows for a rapid recovery.

Uretoscopic procedureUreteroscopic Procedure – Instead of making a puncture through the skin, a scope goes in from the inside of the urinary tract (a normal passageway). The scopes used in this procedure are much smaller (2.5-mm) than those used in the percutaneous approach.

These approaches have revolutionized the way we treat many disorders of the kidney that require surgical intervention providing equivalent results with a much quicker recovery.


The benefits of minimally invasive procedures are numerous. Candidates for minimally invasive procedures can expect a much shorter hospital stay. This equates to fewer requirements for pain medicine, better cosmetics and a quicker return to work and normal activities. Not all patients are candidates for minimally invasive surgery, however our hospital is world-renowned for these types of procedures and have extensive experience in offering these approaches for the benefit of our patients.