Robotic Kidney Surgery

Many kidney cancers can be cured with surgery

If you have kidney cancer, you have several different treatment options available. You and your doctor will discuss your options and decide which one is right for you. 

Our main treatment for kidney cancer is robotic-assisted surgery. We’re able to perform safe and effective robotic procedures for even complex cases -- often sparing the kidney. With robotic kidney surgery, we insert tiny instruments and a camera through keyhole incisions.

Advantages of robotic kidney surgery

Traditional kidney surgery for patients with kidney cancer is an “open” procedure. This means the surgeon creates a large incision and may even need to remove a rib to access the kidney. Both of these can be very painful.

Robotic surgery requires only a few small incisions. Other benefits include:

  • Smaller incisions, less scarring and faster healing
  • Decreased risk of injury to the bowel or other nearby organs
  • Faster return of bowel function after surgery
  • Fewer complications
  • Less blood loss
  • Less pain and reduced need for pain medication
  • Quicker return to normal activity and work (2-3 weeks for full recovery)
  • Shorter hospital stay (usually 1-2 days)

Types of kidney surgery

  • Robotic-Assisted Partial Nephrectomy: During a partial nephrectomy, the tumor is removed but the rest of the kidney is left intact, which is why it’s also known as a renal-sparing surgery. Since the portion of the kidney near the tumor is reconstructed, this is a complex operation, but our surgeons have the necessary experience to do it successfully and to use a minimally invasive approach.
  • Robotic-Assisted Radical Nephrectomy: This procedure completely removes the entire kidney, and is necessary for some patients with more advanced tumors. The remaining kidney usually provides adequate function without the risk of failure or dialysis in the future, as long as it’s healthy. Sometimes the adrenal gland and fatty tissue surrounding the kidney also need to be taken out.
  • Robotic-Assisted Nephroureterectomy: Cancer (urothelial cancer) affects both the inner lining of the kidney and/or the ureter, so both are removed.

For more information, see our robotic-assisted kidney surgery FAQs.

Two brothers, same kidney cancer surgery

Two brothers, John and Bill MacInnis were both diagnosed with Kidney Cancer around the same time. Both brothers went to Henry Ford Health System for robotic kidney surgery that would save part of their kidneys. The following videos tell their story.

Two brothers, both diagnosed with Kidney Cancer, came to Henry Ford Hospital for partial robotic nephrectomies to treat their cancer

Dr. Craig Rogers performs robotic kidney surgery. With only a fraction of the blood loss of traditional surgery, he will be able to spare the patient's kidney and give him a shorter recovery period.

Dr. Craig Rogers and John MacInnis talk about John's kidney surgery and his life since the surgery.

Watch the full Minds of Medicine TV to see how the MacInnis brothers and other Henry Ford patients have beaten cancer with surgery.

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