Upstate News

August 22, 2002
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

University Hospital now performs laparoscopic kidney removal

University Hospital is now using a new less invasive approach–hand-assisted laparoscopic nephrectomy–to remove a kidney from a living donor for transplantation. The new laparoscopic procedure enables surgeons to remove a kidney through a small incision, resulting in less pain and a faster, fuller recovery for donors. University is one of only a handful of hospitals in the state–and the only one in Central New York–to offer this procedure.

The technique, transplant officials say, has the potential to increase the number of people interested in becoming a kidney donor. “As this procedure becomes more and more available, we could see greater access to transplantation and a life free from dialysis for people in need of a new kidney,” said Dilip Kittur, M.D., a transplant surgeon and director of transplant services at University Hospital.

Laparoscopic nephrectomy is performed using a laparoscope and video technology. This instrument allows for three incisions, each approximately 1/2 inch in length. The tiny laparoscopic instruments are used to cut the kidney away from surrounding tissue. A final incision of approximately three inches is made near the navel through which the kidney is extracted. The procedure lasts about two and a half hours. A hospital stay of two to three days is usually necessary before the patient is discharged. Donors can return to work or resume their normal activity within two to four weeks, according to doctors.

“This procedure is extremely patient-friendly,” said Kittur. “It’s less invasive, causes less pain and does not require a lengthy hospital stay. And it is just as safe as traditional nephrectomy.”

Conventional kidney removal–open nephrectomy–requires a 12 to 14-inch incision and removal of part of the rib to extract the kidney. “This procedure usually results in a prolonged hospital stay, a significant amount of postoperative pain and a recovery that can last up to eight weeks,” Kittur said.

The use of laparoscopic nephrectomy has been shown to increase in the number of donors. Studies from different transplant centers where laparoscopic nephrectomies are performed show a dramatic increase in kidney transplants from living donors. At the University of Maryland Medical Center 40 percent of the kidney transplants today come from living donors, compared to 25 percent four years ago, before the center began performing laparoscopic nephrectomies.

“The decision to donate a kidney is a very personal one and many factors go into reaching that decision, but the fact that we now offer a much less invasive procedure for kidney removal, may sway some individuals in becoming donors,” Kittur said. “We’ve seen this to be the case in other areas of the country.”

For more information on becoming a donor, contact University Hospital Transplant Program at 315-464-5413.

Editor’s Note: If you would like graphics to accompany your coverage of this item, please contact Darryl Geddes at 315-464-4828. Graphics can be sent to you electronically for use in your publication.

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