For patients who need it the most, a robot-assisted partial nephrectomy may help preserve kidney function and save the kidneys.
In a ground-breaking study, researchers at Henry Ford Hospital's Vattikuti Urology Institute in Detroit, Michigan, found that patients who received robot-assisted partial nephrectomy to treat kidney cancer had minimal loss of kidney function - a smaller amount even than patients with normal kidney function.
"Our study supports robot-assisted partial nephrectomy as an alternative to open surgery for patients with chronic kidney disease because decreases in kidney function after the procedure appear minimal," said senior study author Craig Rogers, a Henry Ford urologist and robotic surgery specialist.
Partial nephrectomy or kidney-sparing surgery removes only the diseased part of the kidney sparing the healthy, functioning kidney tissue.
"In addition, no patients developed end-stage kidney disease requiring long-term kidney dialysis," he added in the study published in European Urology, the journal of the European Association of Urology.
"Our study shows that these patients can receive the benefits of a minimally invasive robotic approach when performed by experienced surgeons, and they do well," Rogers added.
The researchers collected data from nearly 1,200 patients who underwent RPN between 2007 and 2012.
Outcomes of patients who had pre-existing chronic kidney disease with decreased kidney function before surgery were compared against those with normal kidney function.
The researchers found that patients with chronic kidney disease had a lesser amount of decline in kidney function after RPN than those with normal kidney function, when measured at their first follow-up exam and later visits, concluded the study.