During a robotic nephrectomy, the entire kidney is removed to treat kidney cancer or other kidney diseases, such as non-functioning kidneys or those with chronic urinary tract infections.
Removing Kidney Tissue
If a patient is undergoing a robotic nephrectomy, the following factors are considered:
- If the tumor is confined to the kidney
- If there is more than one tumor
- How much the tumor has spread throughout the kidney
- If the cancer has spread to nearby tissue
- How well the other kidney functions
- If other diseases are impairing kidney function
- Overall kidney health
A decision will be made based on the results of the following imaging tests:
- Computerized tomography (CT), which is a specialized X-ray technology that creates images of cross-sectional views of the soft tissues
- Magnetic resonance imaging
The Role of Kidneys
Kidneys play an important role in the human body, helping to:
- Filter waste and excess fluid and electrolytes from the blood
- Produce urine
- Maintain proper mineral balance in the bloodstream
- Produce hormones that help regulate blood pressure and impact the number of red blood cells
Risks of Nephrectomy
Robotic nephrectomy is a minimally invasive procedure which often results in a decreased hospital stay, less blood loss and improved cosmesis. However, the following complications are still possible:
- Injury to nearby organs
Long-term problems may arise due to reduced kidney function; these may include high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease.
The safety and effectiveness of robotic nephrectomy will depend on the patient’s overall health and the surgeon’s expertise and experience.
Questions to Ask Your Surgeon Before the Procedure
Patients will receive instructions for what they need to do prior to surgery. Information will cover:
- Time to begin fasting
- Which prescription medication to stop taking
- Which non-prescription medication to avoid
- When to arrive at the hospital
What Happens During a Robotic Nephrectomy
Robotic nephrectomy involves the use of a computer console and robotic arms which have surgical instruments attached to them. The surgeon sits behind a computer console near the operating table and controls the movement of the robotic arm and instruments. Robotic tools require very small incisions, provide better imaging, and increase the accuracy of each movement.
After the procedure, the urinary catheter generally remain in place for one day. The length of the hospital stay will depend on the patient’s overall health and the type of nephrectomy performed.
Patients will receive instructions before leaving the hospital about diet and activity restrictions. Light, everyday activities are allowed, but strenuous activity and heavy lifting should be avoided for a three to four weeks. Overall, patients are typically able to independently resume activities of daily living soon after the procedure.
After the procedure, patients will need check-ups to monitor their blood pressure, protein urine levels, and waste filtration. Decreased kidney function can lead to increased blood pressure, high protein urine levels, and reduced filtration rate. The physician will create a personalized treatment plan to address any issues with post-operative recovery.