A new type of robotic surgery could save the lives of patients with tumors of the kidneys. Current surgery involves cutting out the tumors, often taking with them sections of healthy tissue. Blood supply to the entire kidney is temporarily stopped while the tumors are removed to prevent excessive bleeding.
Sometimes damage is done to the kidneys and they stop functioning correctly, leading the patient to require organ transplantation.
With the new technique, surgeons can cut off the blood supply to the individual tumors, using robotic technology, while leaving the rest of the healthy tissue intact. This means they can remove tumors without having to interrupt blood flow to the entire kidney.
Dr. Inderbir S. Gill, inventor of the new technique, from the Institute of Urology at the University of Southern California, said, “Good kidney function over the long-term is particularly important in patients with kidney cancer. We’re optimistic this new robotic surgical technique, that allows the healthy part of the kidney to be saved, will enable the best possible function of the organ, which we hope can increase the patient’s life-span.”
The technique has only been around for nine months and only been used on 50 patients, mostly from the United States but also from India, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.
Scientists are now planning to compare this group of patients with other kidney cancer patients to see if there are any differences in kidney function and survival. They will also look at the effectiveness of the new type of surgery.
Gill said, “Our initial analyses suggest that patients having the new type of surgery may have superior outcomes and better kidney function.”
Professor Tim Eisen, a UK cancer expert speaking on behalf of Cancer Research UK, said, “This research provides a big step forward in improving methods for removing the cancerous part of the kidney.
"This is an important technique since it allows kidney cancer patients, even some with large tumours, to keep as much as possible of their normal kidney function. They may need this later in life.
“Surgery is the main form of treatment for kidney cancer which has not spread to other organs and surgeons are continuously trying to refine their methods. Cancer Research UK welcomes new techniques, such as this one, which can improve the results of surgery and quality of life after the operation.”
Source: National Cancer Research Institute, Surgical Advances in Renal Cancer, 2010 - http://www.ncri.org.uk/ncriconference/2010abstracts/abstracts/Para95.htm
Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting, in addition to running a charity for people damaged by vaccines or medical mistakes.