Purpose: We assessed the incidence of and analyzed factors that may help prevent major complications and open conversion during laparoscopic nephrectomy at our institutions.
Materials and methods: We retrospectively analyzed all laparoscopic nephrectomies performed between August 1, 1999 and July 31, 2001. Data were stratified for nephrectomy type, intraoperative and postoperative complications. Conversion to open surgery was stratified for emergency versus elective procedures.
Results: Of the 292 laparoscopic procedures performed at our institutions in 2 years 213 (73%) involved laparoscopic nephrectomy, including 84 live donor nephrectomies, 61 radical nephrectomies, 55 simple nephrectomies and 13 nephroureterectomies. A total of 16 major complications (7.5%) occurred, including access related, intraoperative and postoperative complications in 3, 9 and 4 cases, respectively. The conversion rate was 6.1% (13 patients), the transfusion rate was 1.9% and the mortality rate was 0.5% (1 death). Only 1 complication was related to simple laparoscopic nephrectomy, although this group showed the highest rate of elective conversion (7 of 8 elective conversions). Laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy showed the highest rate for emergency conversion (3 of 5 emergency conversions).
Conclusions: Our results reinforce the importance of thorough preoperative imaging, careful patient selection, surgeon experience and skill maintenance in laparoscopy as well as a low threshold for conversion to open surgery. This series provides additional evidence to support the evolution of laparoscopic nephrectomy into a standard of care.