Minimally invasive surgery for pediatric renal tumors: A systematic review by the APSA Cancer Committee

J Pediatr Surg. 2020 Nov;55(11):2251-2259. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2020.03.019. Epub 2020 Mar 31.


Minimally invasive nephrectomy is performed routinely for adult renal tumors and for many benign pediatric conditions. Although open radical nephroureterectomy remains the standard of care for Wilms tumor and most pediatric renal malignancies, there are an increasing number of reports of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for those operations as well. The APSA Cancer Committee performed a systematic review to better understand the risks and benefits of MIS in pediatric patients with renal tumors.

Methods: The search focused on MIS for renal tumors in children and followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) checklist. The initial database search identified 491 published articles, and after progressive review of abstracts and full-length articles, 19 were included in this review.

Results: There were two direct comparison studies where open surgery and MIS were compared. The remaining studies reported only on minimally invasive nephrectomy. Across all studies, there were a total of 151 patients, 126 of which had Wilms tumor and 10 patients had RCC. 104 patients had MIS, with 47 patients having open surgery. In the two studies in which open surgery and MIS were directly compared, more lymph nodes were harvested during open surgery (median = 2 (MIS) vs 5 (open); mean = 2.47 (MIS) vs 3.8 (open)). Many noncomparison studies reported the harvest of 2 of fewer lymph nodes for Wilms tumor. Several MIS patients were also noted to have intraoperative spill or positive margins. Survival between groups was similar.

Conclusions: There is a lack of evidence to support MIS for pediatric renal tumors. This review demonstrates that lymph node harvest has been inadequate for MIS pediatric nephrectomy and there appears to be an increased risk for intraoperative spill. Survival data are similar between groups, but follow-up times were inconsistent and patient selection was clearly biased, with only small tumors being selected for MIS.

Type of study: Review article.

Level of evidence: III.

Keywords: Laparoscopy; Minimally invasive surgery; Nephrectomy; Nephroureterectomy; Surgical oncology; Wilms tumor.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures*
  • Nephrectomy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Wilms Tumor* / surgery