Background: The aim of this randomized study was to compare patient-reported outcome after laparoscopic versus open donor nephrectomy during 1 year follow-up. The evidence base has so far not allowed for a decision as to which method is superior as seen from a long-term quality of life-perspective.
Methods: The donors were randomized to laparoscopic (n=63) or open (n=59) nephrectomy, with follow-up at 1, 6, and 12 months. Primary outcomes were health status (SF-36) and overall quality of life (QOLS-N). Secondary outcomes were donor perception of the surgical scar, the donation's impact on personal finances, and whether the donor would make the same decision to donate again.
Results: There was a significant difference in favor of laparoscopic surgery regarding the SF-36 subscale bodily pain at 1 month postoperatively (P<0.05). Analysis based on intention to treat revealed no long-term differences between groups in SF-36 scores. When subtracting the reoperated/converted donors of the laparoscopic group, significant differences in favor of laparoscopy were revealed in the subscales bodily pain at 6 months (P<0.05) and social functioning at 12 months (P<0.05). No significant differences were found in QOLS-N scores between groups.
Conclusions: Laparoscopic donor nephrectomy is an attractive alternative to open donor nephrectomy because of less postoperative pain. However, long-term comparison only revealed significant differences in favor of laparoscopy when adjusting for reoperations/conversions. Both groups reached baseline scores in most SF-36 subscales at 12 months and this may explain why possible minor benefits are hard to prove.