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Two is Better Than One: New Procedure Saves Your Kidney After Cancer

May 16, 2014

DETROIT – More than 30,000 kidney tumors are diagnosed annually in the United States.

Unfortunately, the standard of medical care is to remove the tumor and the kidney, leaving patients with only one kidney.

Now a robot-assisted procedure pioneered at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital enables more and more patients to keep both kidneys and cure their cancer, sparing kidneys that otherwise would be removed during kidney cancer operations.

“When you save the kidney, you’re preserving kidney function,” says Craig Rogers, M.D., Director of Renal Surgery at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, in Michigan. “Saving a kidney has been shown to correlate with better medical outcomes, fewer cardiovascular events, even improved survival with better kidney function.”

He adds: “If it’s technically feasible to save the kidney, then that’s what we should be doing.”

Robot-assisted partial nephrectomy, or RPN, is steadily replacing both traditional “open” surgery and laparoscopic partial nephrectomy, not only because it allows kidney cancer patients to be cured of the disease while keeping both kidneys, but because it has been shown to have fewer complications.

A study by researchers at Henry Ford’s Vattikuti Urology Institute, which compared the results of RPN to both open and laparoscopic kidney surgeries, found:

  • Patients undergoing RPN were the least likely to receive a blood transfusion, while those who had open surgery were most likely.
  • The same was true for developing complications after surgery or requiring a prolonged hospital stay.
  • Those undergoing RPN were less likely to develop complications during their surgery.
  • While the in-hospital mortality rates for all three types of partial nephrectomy were low, RPN resulted in no deaths compared to 0.3 percent for open surgery and 0.1 percent for laparoscopy.

“Because the patient retains both kidneys, they continue their function of removing waste from the bloodstream in the form of urine. When they don’t perform adequately – a condition known as renal insufficiency – it can result in cardiovascular disease and other illnesses, leading to hospitalization and sometimes death,” Dr. Rogers says.

Learn more about the Vattikuti Urology Institute.