Robotic Partial Nephrectomy

Patients who have kidney cancer now have more advanced options than ever before. The George Washington University Hospital was one of the first in the Washington, DC area to offer robotic and partial nephrectomy (kidney removal).

For many patients, a kidney-sparing approach called robotic partial nephrectomy, is an option. This complex procedure uses the da Vinci Surgical System to remove only the cancerous portion of the kidney, preserving as much of the unaffected kidney as possible. Using the system’s 3-D magnification, surgeons are able to precisely identify cancerous kidney tumors, as well as the healthy tissue, and remove the affected tissue through small incisions in the patient’s abdomen.

After surgeons have removed the tumor, they must reconstruct the remaining portion of the kidney. One of the benefits of partial nephrectomy is that a patient will still have a “reserve” kidney in addition to their unaffected kidney. This can be important for patients such as diabetics who are at-risk for kidney failure.

Patients who are not candidates for robotic partial nephrectomy, may consider robotic-assisted or laparoscopic nephrectomy, a procedure in which the patient’s entire kidney is removed using minimally-invasive, laparoscopic techniques.

Each patient and procedure is unique but in general, the small incisions used in robotic and laparoscopic surgery can result in less post-operative pain, tissue trauma, and blood loss and a faster return to normal activities. A patient’s hospital stay is generally shorter following robotic laparoscopic surgery than with traditional open surgery.