Purpose: The laparoscopic technique for bilateral nephrectomy in patients with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease is technically difficult. The procedure may be more acceptable if alterations to the technique made it safer and easier to perform. We describe our initial experience with, and the feasibility and potential benefits of hand assisted laparoscopic nephrectomy for approaching these large kidneys in patients with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease.
Materials and methods: This approach was successfully applied in 3 patients with end stage renal disease due to autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. After obtaining transumbilical pneumoperitoneum ports were placed in the umbilicus (12 mm.), sub-xiphoid in the midline (12 mm.) and subcostal in the midclavicular line on each side (12 mm.). The table was tilted 40 degrees away from the planned side of initial nephrectomy with the patient in the half lateral position. A 7 cm. midline incision was made that incorporated the umbilical port and a commercially available hand assistance device was positioned. One surgeon hand was inserted into the abdomen to serve as a retractor/blunt dissector, while the other operated the electrosurgical instruments. The right hand was inserted for left nephrectomy and the left hand was inserted for right nephrectomy. The laparoscope was passed via the sub-xiphoid port and the instruments were placed through the ipsilateral subcostal laparoscopic port. Nephrectomy was completed and the specimen was removed through the hand port incision by draining the cysts as they were exposed to view via the midline incision. When dissection was difficult, an additional port was placed in the anterior axillary line at the umbilical level. Some cysts were ruptured or aspirated to decrease overall kidney size and make extraction possible via the 6 to 7 cm. midline incision.
Results: All procedures were successfully completed. Mean operative time for bilateral hand assisted laparoscopic nephrectomy was 5.5 hours (range 4.5 to 6.6). Estimated blood loss was 200 cc or less. Patients resumed oral intake on postoperative day 1. The mean amount of parenteral analgesics required postoperatively was decreased. Mean hospital stay was 4.3 days but it was 3 days when considering nephrectomy only. Patients returned to normal activity after an average of 2 weeks. There was sustained resolution of preoperative discomfort based on pain analog scales. At 1 month or less all patients recorded absent pain. They uniformly noticed improved preoperative pulmonary and gastrointestinal symptoms
Conclusions: Hand assisted laparoscopic nephrectomy in patients with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease makes bilateral nephrectomy a reasonable option. The bilateral procedure may be performed as rapidly as laparoscopic only, unilateral nephrectomy in these cases. The advantages of the hand assisted approach include using tactile sensation to facilitate dissection, rapid blunt finger dissection, hand retraction and the application of immediate tamponade when needed. This procedure provides the benefits of minimal intraoperative blood loss, minimal postoperative pain, brief hospital stay and rapid convalescence in this group of patients at high risk.