Over the past few years, The George Washington University 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).

Minimally invasive approaches have revolutionized the way kidney disorders are treated. While not all patients are candidates for minimally invasive surgery, those who are can expect a much shorter hospital stay, which means fewer requirements for pain medicine, less scaring and a faster recovery. 

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 and a telescope is inserted allowing the surgeon to operate using a video system.

Robotic Procedure: Similar to the laparoscopic approach, except two or three robotic arms are placed inside the patient to assist with the surgical procedure. These small arms 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>

Percutaneous Procedure: Rather than using surgical instruments, the kidney is accessed 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.

Ureteroscopic Procedure: Instead of making a puncture through the skin, a scope is inserted 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.