What is a partial nephrectomy?

A partial nephrectomy is the partial removal of a kidney tumor while leaving the healthy part of the kidney. The remaining renal function is maximized by only removing the cancerous lesion (instead of the entire kidney), which has been shown to decrease rates of cardiovascular complications in the future. 

What is a robotic partial nephrectomy?

Robotic partial nephrectomy uses a combination of high-definition 3D magnification, robotic technology and miniature instruments to enhance a urologic surgeon’s skills when removing the cancerous portion of the kidney and reconstructing the remaining healthy kidney.

Unlike traditional open partial nephrectomy, which requires a 6 to 8-inch long incision in the abdomen or side, only four tiny incisions in the abdomen (see image below) are required for the slender robotic arms and tiny surgical tools used in a robot-assisted partial nephrectomy and other robotic urologic procedures. There are four available arms – one equipped with a high definition 3-D magnification camera, two that act as the surgeon’s arms and a fourth arm that is used for holding back tissue. The camera gives the surgeon enhanced detail, true depth of field and a panoramic view, and the robotic hands’ broad range of movement enables greater dexterity. The surgeon remotely guides the robotic arms while seated at the console, located a short distance away from the patient.

You can see how smoothly and accurately the surgeon’s movements are replicated by the robotic arms by watching the da Vinci Technology Overview video. 

What are the benefits of a robotic nephrectomy?

Robotic surgery’s miniaturization, increased range of motion, enhanced vision and mechanical precision offer significant benefits for nephrectomy patients, including:

  • Less blood loss
  • Less post-surgical pain/less medication
  • Quicker recovery and return to normal activities
  • Less scarring