Urologic Oncologic SurveyRobotic level III inferior vena cava tumor thrombectomy: Initial series. Gill IS, Metcalfe C, Abreu A, Duddalwar V, Chopra S, Cunningham M, Thangathurai D, Ukimura O, Satkunasivam R, Hung A, Papalia R, Aron M, Desai M, Gallucci M. J Urol. 2015 Oct;194(4):929-938. [Epub 2015 Apr 6]. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2015.03.119

Urol Oncol. 2017 May;35(5):311. doi: 10.1016/j.urolonc.2016.05.010. Epub 2017 Mar 23.


Purpose: Level III inferior vena cava tumor thrombectomy for renal cancer is one of the most challenging open urologic surgeries. We present the initial series of completely intracorporeal robotic level III inferior vena cava tumor thrombectomy.

Materials and methods: Nine patients underwent robotic level III inferior vena cava thrombectomy and 7 patients underwent level II thrombectomy. The entire operation (high intrahepatic inferior vena cava control, caval exclusion, tumor thrombectomy, inferior vena cava repair, radical nephrectomy, and retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy) was performed exclusively robotically. To minimize the chances of intraoperative inferior vena cava thrombus embolization, an "inferior vena cava-first, kidney-last" robotic technique was developed. Data were accrued prospectively.

Results: All 16 robotic procedures were successful, without open conversion or mortality. For level III cases (9), median primary kidney (right 6, left 3) cancer size was 8.5cm (range: 5.3-10.8) and inferior vena cava thrombus length was 5.7cm (range: 4-7). Median operative time was 4.9 hours (range: 4.5-6.3), estimated blood loss was 375ml (range: 200-7,000), and hospital stay was 4.5 days. All surgical margins were negative. There were no intraoperative complications and 1 postoperative complication (Clavien 3b). At a median 7 months of follow-up (range: 1-18) all patients are alive. Compared to level II thrombi the level III cohort trended toward greater inferior vena cava thrombus length (3.3 vs 5.7cm), operative time (4.5 vs 4.9h) and blood loss (290 vs 375ml).

Conclusions: With appropriate patient selection, surgical planning and robotic experience, completely intracorporeal robotic level III inferior vena cava thrombectomy is feasible and can be performed efficiently. Larger experience, longer follow-up and comparison with open surgery are needed to confirm these initial outcomes.

Keywords: Inferior; Robotics; Thrombectomy; Vena cava.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms*
  • Nephrectomy
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures*
  • Thrombectomy
  • Vena Cava, Inferior