Robotic partial nephrectomy is the surgical removal of a portion of a kidney normally used to treat cancer while preserving as much healthy kidney tissue as possible.

Why would someone need a robotic partial nephrectomy?

Patients may be candidates for robotic partial nephrectomy if they have a small kidney tumor or when removing the entire kidney could result in kidney failure and the need for dialysis. 

Because of recent medical breakthroughs, robotic partial nephrectomy is the preferred method of surgical intervention for patients with smaller kidney tumors <4 cm in size. However, tumors between 4 and 7 centimeters can be treated with robotic partial nephrectomy if they are located in certain areas.

What happens before a robotic partial nephrectomy?

If you take blood thinners such as warfarin, aspirin, or plavix, your surgeon will instruct you to stop taking those 5 to 7 days before surgery. Anti-inflammatory medications and certain vitamin supplements can cause increased bleeding so disclose all of your medications and supplements to your surgeon and anesthesiologist.

It is very important that in preparation for your surgery that you stop smoking. Tobacco harms the body's natural ability the heal itself which is very important after robotic kidney surgery.

Your surgeon will ask you to not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This is to prevent negative effects of the potential nausea that some patients experience due to anesthesia. Your surgeon may instruct you to take your blood pressure medicine the morning before surgery and you may do so with small sips of water.

If you have any questions, your Cleveland Clinic doctor will be able to answer them for you.

What happens during a robotic partial nephrectomy?

A patient will be given general anesthesia so they can be unconscious for the procedure. 

A robotic partial nephrectomy is performed by making small incisions in the abdomen where the robotic surgical equipment and camera can be inserted. The abdominal cavity is then inflated with carbon dioxide gas to provide space for the manipulation of the surgical equipment and camera to access the cancerous tissues.

Under the command of the robotic surgeon, the blood flow to the cancerous kidney is stopped, allowing the kidney to be dissected and the cancerous portion to then be to then be detached from the surrounding tissue. The tumor is removed from the body and the surgeon sews the remaining section of kidney back together.

What happens after a robotic partial nephrectomy?

After your laparoscopic nephrectomy, you will be monitored closely by medical experts and treated for post-procedure pain. As stated before, laparoscopic nephrectomies are far less traumatic than open surgery. However, this does not mean it is pain-free. As you recover, you'll be treated with pain medication and management techniques that are appropriate for you.

You'll be encouraged to walk around shortly after your surgery to encourage healing, blood flow, and to restore normal functioning. Walking after surgery also helps prevent pneumonia and other complications.

Immediately after surgery, you'll be given a liquid diet. As you heal and recover from surgery, you'll be reintroduced to a solid normal diet.

Normal functioning of the body can be maintained by a single healhty kidney. However, it is possible that your doctor will recommend a healthy diet for you to eat when you return home, physical activity, and regular checkups to help preserve kidney function.

Reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional.

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