, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 99-109
Date: 25 Feb 2011

Robot-assisted partial nephrectomy: current status, techniques, and future directions

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Open partial nephrectomy for the treatment of small renal masses (SRMs) concerning for renal cell carcinoma has been increasingly utilized with the increased incidental detection of SRMs and the growing recognition of the benefits of renal preservation. Laparoscopic partial nephrectomy (LPN) is a minimally invasive technique that achieves comparable oncologic and improved morbidity outcomes when compared to the open procedure. However, LPN is a technically demanding procedure resulting in a long learning curve and a lack of widespread adoption. Robot-assisted partial nephrectomy (RAPN) overcomes many of the technical hurdles of the LPN and is now coming to the forefront for the minimally invasive surgical management of SRMs. To date, the short-term oncologic outcomes of RAPN have been comparable to the open operation while providing the improved morbidity outcomes of LPN. Although encouraging, we await the long-term oncologic results of this new and promising procedure. The current bottleneck is an issue of cost and reliance on a patient-side surgeon. Future developments in instrumentation, newer robots, cost reduction, more streamlined training, increased robotic experience, and adoption by more centers will lead to greater benefit for patients with SRMs requiring nephron-sparing surgery. This review will discuss techniques for RAPN and then delve into the current status of RAPN using parameters such as warm ischemia time, blood loss, hospital stay, oncological outcomes, complications, learning curve, and quality of life. There will be an exploration of potential disadvantages associated with RAPN followed by a look at evolving techniques in regard to this groundbreaking procedure.