Expert Kidney Cancer Surgery
Advanced and minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery options for kidney cancer.
Surgery for kidney cancer requires highly skilled surgeons. At Henry Ford, our kidney surgeons are pioneers in robotic-assisted kidney surgery and among the most experienced in the world in performing robotic partial (kidney-sparing) nephrectomy, a complex procedure that removes the tumor while saving the kidney.
Robotic-assisted surgery is our main treatment for kidney cancer, and malignant and benign kidney tumors caused by von Hippel-Lindau syndrome. These innovative robotic surgical techniques shorten your hospital stay and preserve kidney function.
What are the advantages of robotic kidney cancer 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 can be very painful.
Robotic surgery involves a few small “keyhole” incisions to insert the robotic surgical instruments and a camera. This minimally invasive approach offers several other benefits, including:
- Smaller incisions, which means less scaring 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 robotic kidney cancer surgery
The type of kidney cancer surgery that is right for you will depend on your diagnosis and unique needs. At Henry Ford, we use the most advanced techniques, approaches and technologies available to offer you the best outcome.
- Robotic partial (kidney-sparing) nephrectomy removes the tumor while preserving the normal and unaffected portion of the kidney. By saving the kidney, this procedure reduces the chance for long-term kidney failure and provides better overall kidney function. Our surgeons have experience performing this procedure for even the most complex cases, including large, deep or multiple tumors; obese patients; vascular invasion; proximity to critical structures; prior abdominal surgeries; and hereditary kidney cancer.
- Robotic nephrectomy completely removes the entire affected kidney. This procedure is often used for certain large, advanced tumors, or for kidneys that no longer function. In some cases, the adrenal gland and fatty tissue surrounding the kidney may need to be removed. The remaining kidney usually provides adequate function without the risk of failure or dialysis in the future, if it is healthy.
- Robotic-assisted nephroureterectomy removes the kidney and its ureter (the duct through which urine passes from the kidney to the bladder) for patients diagnosed with urothelial cancer.
Some patient with large kidney tumors may also undergo renal embolization prior to surgery. Performed by our interventional radiologists, this minimally invasive procedure blocks an artery or vein by injecting small particles through a catheter into the tumor. It is done to decrease blood loss during surgery.
What to expect after kidney cancer surgery
Patients who have robot-assisted kidney cancer surgery will stay in the hospital for about 48 hours. You’ll have four to six small incisions covered by small bandages. You may be able to remove these bandages before you go home.
After surgery you can expect:
- A follow up appointment in three weeks with our team.
- To return to your daily activities in about three weeks. We recommend that you to wait about four weeks after surgery to resume more strenuous work and exercise.
- A tumor pathology report in several days that will explain if your tumor is cancerous, and if so, the cancer type and stage.
- Post-surgery tests, which may include X-rays and some bloodwork. These tests can be done by your primary physician or urologist, or our team.