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Partial or Total Nephrectomy

Temple Health urologists perform a variety of kidney and kidney tumor removal surgery including traditional open and minimally invasive, laparoscopic and robotic-assisted partial (kidney sparing) and radical nephrectomy, a surgical procedure to remove part, or all, of the kidney.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive & Robotic-Assisted Kidney Surgery

When compared to traditional open surgery, the benefits of laparoscopic and robotic-assisted, minimally invasive nephrectomy (both partial and radical) include:

  • Less pain
  • Less blood loss and less need for a blood transfusion
  • Less internal and external scarring
  • Shorter hospital stays (two to three days instead of up to a week)
  • Shorter overall recovery time before you can return to normal activities

Partial Nephrectomy Treatment Options

Robotic-Assisted Partial Nephrectomy

At Temple Health, the majority of kidney tumors, masses or complex cysts can be treated with a procedure called partial nephrectomy (kidney sparing), the surgical removal of the cancerous section of the kidney. The procedure leaves enough healthy kidney intact to allow for surgical reconstruction.

Robotic-assisted partial nephrectomy allows the removal and reconstruction of the kidney to be performed through multiple keyhole-sized incisions, as opposed to a single open incision measuring several inches across the side of the abdomen. This large incision with open surgery is typically painful and may require partial removal of a rib.

After being placed in a small plastic bag, the tumor is removed from the body through one of the small incisions. In some cases, nearby lymph nodes may also be removed and examined (lymph node dissection) as part of the nephrectomy or partial nephrectomy.

Using the robot, we can sometimes complete lymph node dissections that may match or surpass what most experienced open surgeons are able to offer.

Laparoscopic Partial Nephrectomy

Although laparoscopic partial nephrectomy can also be performed using smaller incisions, it can be technically challenging – so these procedures are usually done robotically.

Total Nephrectomy Treatment Options

Laparoscopic or Robotic-Assisted Radical/Total Nephrectomy

While partial, kidney sparing removal of the kidney is our preferred method, you may need a radical or total nephrectomy (total kidney removal) if the:

  • Tumor is too large or problematic to spare the kidney
  • Kidney no longer functions (this can also be caused by reasons other than cancer)

The entire minimally invasive radical nephrectomy procedure is performed through tiny keyhole-sized incisions, as opposed to a large, open incision on the side of the abdomen – an incision that is often more painful and sometimes requires partial removal of a rib.

A More Conservative Approach to Nephrectomy

Temple Health urologists may be able to perform partial nephrectomy even in patients with complex tumors who have been told by others that they require a total (or "radical") nephrectomy. Many times, our surgeons can remove tumors through minimally invasive procedures that surgeons at other institutions would remove through a large incision.

When clinically appropriate, our surgeons prefer partial nephrectomy (kidney sparing) with kidney reconstruction as opposed to radical nephrectomy because a reconstructed kidney offers two main advantages:

  • It decreases the risk of long-term kidney failure.
  • It acts as a reserve if the other kidney sustains damage.

We are often able to perform robotic kidney procedures in the vast majority of patients with special needs or risk factors (such as Jehovah's Witness patients or those with obesity, multiple prior surgeries, advanced stage/early spread of the tumor into blood vessels, complex medical conditions, or those older in age), who might otherwise be told they are not eligible for open or minimally invasive surgery.

If your urologist tells you that you are not a candidate for a minimally invasive approach or a kidney-sparing approach, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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Urologic Robotic Surgery Program

As national leaders in robotic urologic surgery, our surgeons have performed over 1,000 robotic surgeries each and routinely evaluate and operate on complicated and high-risk patients.

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