Purpose: We examine how the level of experience acquired by the laparoscopist affects the outcome of laparoscopic adrenalectomy and nephrectomy, and what is necessary to avoid complications in these surgeries.
Materials and methods: We retrospectively evaluated the experience levels of 8 urological laparoscopists between 1991 and 1995. In addition, other cases that were converted to open surgery were collected from the institutes with which the 8 laparoscopists were affiliated.
Results: The rates of conversion to open surgery were 6.4% in 204 cases of adrenalectomy and 14.3% in 63 of nephrectomy. Conversion rates were related to blood loss volume but not operative time. The major causes of conversion were bleeding in 45% of cases and adhesion in 34%. There were no mortalities. Mean operative time decreased significantly, reaching that of open surgery as the number of procedures increased up to 20 adrenalectomies and 10 nephrectomies. The volume of blood lost remained low from the early experience. Blood transfusion rates were 4.4% for adrenalectomy and 11.1% for nephrectomy.
Conclusions: Operative time of these procedures decreased significantly with surgeon experience and reached that of open surgery. Cases in which adhesion is anticipated should be restricted to avoid conversion. These laparoscopic procedures are acceptable as a standard operative techniques for adrenal and renal diseases.