Fletcher Allen, a Vermont university hospital and medical center, serves all of
Vermont and the northern New York region. Located in Burlington, Fletcher Allen is a regional, academic healthcare center and teaching hospital in alliance with the University of Vermont.
The kidneys are two small fist-sized organs located behind the abdomen on each side of the spine above your waist. By producing urine, kidneys remove toxic by-products and excess fluids from the body to help maintain a critical balance of salt, potassium and acid.
Blockage of the Ureter
Although more common in children than adults, blockage of the ureter – the tubes that transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder – can occur in adults as a result of kidney stones, previous surgery or disorders that can cause inflammation of the upper urinary tract.
Urinary tract blockage is often due to an obstruction where the ureter joins the renal pelvis. This area is known as the ureteropelvic junction (UPJ). A UPJ obstruction may cause serious side effects like infections and kidney stones. If left untreated, blockages can lead to chronic pain and may damage the kidney over time.
Cancer can form in the small tubes inside the kidney where urine collects are used to filter blood. Kidney cancer is diagnosed in about 50,000 Americans each year and is the cause of death in approximately 13,000 Americans. Kidney cancer is slightly more common in men and is usually diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 70 years. The most common kidney cancer is called renal cell carcinoma.
Treatment of Kidney Disorders
Blockage of the ureter can often be treated without kidney surgery, however surgery may also be used depending on the type of blockage.
Kidney cancer, on the other hand, is fairly resistant to radiation and chemotherapy. As a result the gold standard treatment for localized kidney cancer is the surgical removal of the kidney tumors, or surgical removal of a part or all of the kidney (called a nephrectomy). Kidney surgery options include open or partial nephrectomy, and laparoscopic nephectomy.
Kidney surgery has traditionally been performed using an open approach, meaning doctors must make a large incision in the abdomen (open nephrectomy). Another option is conventional laparoscopy, which is less invasive but also limits the doctor's dexterity, field of vision and control (laparoscopic nephrectomy).
Robotic-Assisted Surgery for Kidney Conditions
If your doctor recommends surgery for kidney cancer, you may be a candidate for minimally invasive, robotic-assisted kidney surgery using the da Vinci Surgical System. This approach involves the use of state-of-the-art technology to help your doctor perform a more precise operation than conventional kidney surgery. It offers several potential benefits over a conventional open nephrectomy, including:
- Significantly less pain
- Less blood loss
- Fewer transfusions
- Less risk of infection
- Less scarring
- Shorter hospital stay
- Shorter recovery time
- Increased potential for kidney preservation in certain prescribed cancer operations
- Better clinical outcomes, in many cases
Robotic-assisted kidney surgery offers Fletcher Allen’s expert surgeons added precision and dexterity, which can lead to better clinical outcomes for the treatment of kidney cancer.
As with any surgery, these benefits cannot be guaranteed, as surgery is patient and procedure specific.
Contact a Fletcher Allen Urologist
If you are a candidate for a nephrectomy talk to a Fletcher Allen urologist who performs da Vinci surgery for kidney disorders, including kidney cancer.