During laparoscopic kidney cancer surgery, your doctor inserts a small tube called a laparoscope with a camera in front and a light at the end into one of several small incisions he makes in your lower abdomen to access the kidney. The laparoscope allows the physician to see the area where the surgical procedure will be performed with the help of a screen. The surgeon inserts instruments into the other incisions and performs the surgery using the images on the screen. It can visualize tissues, remove tumors, and even remove the kidney from the body with a cutting tool and tissue harvester that is part of laparoscopy.
Laparoscopy is a procedure commonly used in the treatment of kidney cancer. Patients achieve results such as less blood loss, less need for painkillers, shorter hospital stay, faster return to daily activities compared to traditional surgery.
Advantages of Laparoscopic Kidney Surgery
The biggest advantage of laparoscopic kidney surgery is that your doctor can perform the surgery with only a few small incisions, which would require a large incision in conventional surgery. Compared to open surgery, laparoscopic surgery means shorter hospital stay, less pain, and faster recovery time.
In addition, the laparoscope magnifies images on the monitor, allowing the surgeon to see more tissue detail than can be achieved during conventional surgery. This reduces the risk of leaving any part of the tumor behind and increases the amount of healthy kidney tissue that can leave in the body.
Before laparoscopy, all patients are asked to give blood samples. Depending on your age and general health, EKG (electrocardiogram), chest X-ray, and lung function tests may be ordered to assess your body's ability to cope with the stress of surgery.
Before starting the operation, the surgeon examines the abdominal cavity to make sure that the laparoscopy procedure is safe for you. If he sees infection or abdominal disease, he may decide not to continue the procedure or to return to traditional surgery during the operation. If the surgeon decides that the surgery can be performed safely, he proceeds by making additional small incisions to gain access to the kidney.
How Long Does Laparoscopic Kidney Cancer Surgery Take?
The duration of the operation may differ due to the size of the tumor and individual anatomy. However, it is possible to say that laparoscopic surgery takes one third shorter than traditional surgery.
Who Is Not Suitable For Laparoscopic Surgery?
This treatment of kidney cancer may not be a suitable option for tumors larger than about 10 cm and for tumors that have grown into the renal vessel or have spread to the lymph nodes around the kidney.
For several days after laparoscopy, a thin tube is inserted into the bladder to drain urine from the body. This is called a urinary catheter. The amount of your urine helps the doctor monitor the function of the remaining kidney. When the catheter is removed, the patient returns to urination. Your recovery time will vary depending on your age, general health, and the type of surgery you have.
What are the Risks of Laparoscopic Surgery?
As with any surgery, time is an important factor when removing kidney tumors. There is a period of time when there is no blood flow to the kidney during surgery, and if the kidney is cut off from the blood supply for too long, the patient is likely to develop chronic kidney disease. This risk is lower for patients who have only part of their kidneys removed than for patients who have all of their kidneys removed. Laparoscopic surgery allows faster work than conventional surgery to reduce this risk.
Laparoscopic surgery also allows the surgeon to more easily remove large kidney tumors inside or outside the kidney. Depending on the size of the tumor, the surgeon decides whether to remove the entire kidney or just the tumor tissue.
Follow-up After Laparoscopic Treatment
Kidney cancer patients usually visit their doctor every three to four months for the first few years after treatment, and this timeframe gets wider after a few years. During these visits, the doctor will examine the side effects of the treatment and make sure that the cancer has not returned and spread to another part of the body.
As with most cancers, the chance of the cancer returning to the body is greatest soon after treatment. As time passes, the chance of cancer recurrence decreases.