Objectives: To present the first experience with a 3-port technique for retroperitoneoscopic (HARP) radical nephrectomy, radical nephroureterectomy, and total and live donor nephrectomy. We believe that the retroperitoneoscopic (RP) approach to nephrectomy is advantageous, as it avoids mobilization of intraperitoneal organs and provides direct access to the renal artery. Nonetheless, this approach is not as popular as the transperitoneal approach, likely because of the steeper learning curve. We believe that hand-assistance reduces the learning curve because of the tactile feedback and similarity to open surgery.
Methods: Over a 4-year period, 133 HARP nephrectomies were performed, including 92 radical nephrectomies, 19 radical nephroureterectomies, 12 total nephrectomies, and 10 live donor nephrectomies. Mean patient age was 62 years and mean body mass index was 30; 42% of patients had abdominal scars. Our technique uses a 7-cm muscle-sparing Gibson incision for the hand-port with 2 endoscopic ports.
Results: Mean operative time, including ureterectomy, was 109 minutes, with a mean operative blood loss of 167 mL. Average hospitalization was 3.8 days. Two cases (1.5%) required open conversion. The complication rate was limited to 3.8% for blood transfusion, 3.8% for cardiac issues, 1.5% for pulmonary embolism, 2.3% for wound infection, and 1.5% for urinary retention.
Conclusions: Based on our results, we conclude that HARP nephrectomy is safe and effective and can be expeditiously performed. It is a versatile approach that is applicable for both neoplastic and non-neoplastic indications. In addition, HARP provides a minimally invasive alternative to open conversion in difficult cases of simple nephrectomy.
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