Purpose: The technical difficulty of standard laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy has limited its application. Hand assistance, which takes advantage of the incision necessary for organ removal, facilitates laparoscopy without significant impact on patient recovery. We prospectively compared open surgical and hand assisted laparoscopic donor nephrectomy. Materials and Methods: Our first 10 laparoscopic live donor nephrectomies were matched with 40 open donor nephrectomies by gender, age and body mass index. Data were obtained by pain scales, SF-12 survey instruments, questionnaires and chart abstraction. Results: Operative time was longer for the laparoscopic approach (mean 95 versus 215 minutes). However, laparoscopic group patients had a shorter hospital stay compared to those undergoing open surgery (mean 2.9 versus 1.8 days), returned sooner to nonstrenuous activity (mean 19.0 versus 9.9 days) and reported less pain 6 weeks postoperatively (mean 2.3 versus 0.6) (p ≤0.03 for all). There were no differences between groups in terms of donor complications, allograft function and ureteral complications. Mean hospital cost was 23% greater in the laparoscopic group (p = 0.005) but global cost, which accounted for estimated loss of income from work during the recovery period, was only 15% greater (p = 0.10). Mean operative time was significantly improved for our second compared to our first 5 laparoscopic group patients (177 versus 254 minutes). Conclusions: Laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy appears to be a safe and effective alternative to open donor nephrectomy. Indexes of patient recovery suggest patient morbidity similar to that reported following standard laparoscopic donor nephrectomy and significantly less than after open nephrectomy. Improvement in operative time in the first 10 cases suggests that hand assistance 'shortens' the learning curve, which might encourage more surgeons to offer laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy.
- Living donors
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