Traditionally performed by vascular surgeons or urologists, laparoscopic nephrectomy for live kidney donor transplantation has emerged as a new effective and safe technique. This study examines the implementation of this technique at our centre, as performed by a single general surgeon with expertise in advanced laparoscopic surgery. Patient records for 78 live donor transplants performed between February 2002 and September 2008 were divided into two groups (with 39 patients each) analyzed. A variety of outcome variables were compared. The same individual surgeon performed all laparoscopic donor nephrectomy (LDN) procedures. A significant advantage was noted for LDN with respect to hospital stay (LDN 5.1 ± 1.1 days vs open donor nephrectomy [ODN] 6.4 ± 2.6 days, P=0.01) while ODN had a significant advantage with respect to operative time (LDN 241.1 ± 55.7 min vs ODN 152.0 ± 27.7 min, P<0.01). Within the LDN group, we noted a significant shortening in the operation time with each case as experience increased (see graph; P<0.01). The total postoperative complication rate was similar in both groups (LDN: 31% vs ODN: 44%, P=0.25). There was a trend towards more respiratory complications in ODN (ODN 11/39 [28%] vs LDN 5/39 [13%], P=0.09). While implementing a new procedure may result in longer operative times initially, these improve with time, and our data demonstrates no compromise in patient safety or outcomes. The LDN procedure proved to be a desirable alternative to ODN, with shorter hospital stay and improved operator skills with each case, and without significant compromise in allograft recovery.
- surgical learning curve