Purpose: We document the incidence of complications associated with laparoscopic nephrectomy in a multi-institutional study.
Materials and methods: The study included the initial 185 patients undergoing laparoscopic nephrectomy at 5 centers in the United States between June 1990 and July 1993.
Results: A total of 30 patients (16%) had 34 complications. There was no mortality. Access-related complications included 2 cases of hernia formation at the trocar site, 1 abdominal wall hematoma and 1 trocar injury to a hydronephrotic kidney. Intraoperative complications included 5 cases of vascular injury, 1 splenic laceration and 1 pneumothorax. Postoperative complications involved the gastrointestinal tract in 6 cases, cardiovascular system in 6, genitourinary tract in 4, respiratory system in 4 and musculoskeletal system in 2. Miscellaneous complications occurred in 3 patients. Open surgical intervention was required electively in 8 patients and on an emergency basis in 2. The incidence of complications decreased with experience: 71% occurred during the initial 20 cases at each institution.
Conclusions: In our early experience the complication rate for laparoscopic nephrectomy was 12% in patients with benign renal disease and 34% in those with renal cancer. Based on this collective experience, recommendations for prevention, recognition and treatment of complications are made.