Kidney Cancer

The Operation

This procedure has been preformed on many patients over the last several years. Typically, the length of the operation is 3 hours. The surgery is performed through 4 to 6 small (1cm) incisions in the abdomen. The tumor is usually removed intact by slightly enlarging one of the small incisions after being placed in a sterile bag. Alternatively it may be morcellated (broken up into small pieces in the bag that prevents tumor spread). and removed through a puncture site. A catheter is placed through the water channel into the bladder. Also a drain tube is placed at the end of the operation through a tiny hole in the back.

Potential Risks and Complications

Although this procedure has proven to be very safe, as in any surgical procedure there are risks and potential complications. The safety and complication rates are similar when compared to the open surgery. Potential risks include:

  • Bleeding: Blood loss during this procedure is possible and a transfusion may be needed in 5% of patients. If you are interested in autologous blood transfusion (donating your own blood) you must make your surgeon aware.
  • Infection: All patients are treated with intravenous antibiotics, prior to starting surgery to decrease the chance of infection from occurring after surgery. If you develop any signs or symptoms of infection after the surgery (fever, drainage from the incision, urinary frequency/discomfort, pain) or anything that you may be concerned about please contact us at once.
  • Tissue / Organ Injury: Although uncommon, possible injury to surrounding tissue and organs including bowel, vascular structures, spleen, liver, pancreas and gallbladder could require further surgery. Loss of kidney function is rare, but is a potential risk. Scar tissue may also form in the kidney requiring further surgery. Injury could occur to nerves or muscles related to positioning. Hernia at the incision site is a possibility.
  • Conversion to Open Surgery: The surgical procedure may require conversion to the standard open operation if difficulty is encountered during the laparoscopic procedure. This could result in a larger than standard open incision and possibly a longer recuperation period. Also the entire kidney may need to be removed.
  • Urine Leak: If the urinary collecting system of the kidney needs to be cut across in order to remove the kidney tumor, it is usually sutured closed. If urine leaks out of this hole, The drain tube placed at surgery may be left in place from 1 to 4 weeks. It can be removed in the office. In rare cases, you may need to have a ureteral stent inserted. On rare occasion you may require additional surgery.