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J Urol. 1998 Jul;160(1):18-21.

Laparoscopic nephrectomy: the experience of the laparoscopy working group of the German Urologic Association.

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  • 1Department of Urology, Stadtkrankenhaus Heilbronn, Germany.



The centers of the laparoscopy working group of the German Urologic Association collected data to prove the efficacy, safety and reproducibility of laparoscopic nephrectomy.


At 14 centers 482 laparoscopic nephrectomies have been performed until December 1996 via a transperitoneal approach in 344 (71%) and a retroperitoneal approach in 138 (29%). All 482 laparoscopic nephrectomies were performed by a total of 20 surgeons with an average of 24 procedures per surgeon (range 4 to 105). The indications for nephrectomy were benign renal pathology in 444 patients (92%), including renovascular disease in 28%, hydronephrosis in 20%, reflux nephropathy in 15%, chronic pyelonephritis in 12%, end stage nephrolithiasis in 11%, renal dysplasia in 4% and renal tuberculosis in 1%. Of the remaining 38 patients (8%) laparoscopic radical nephrectomy was performed for renal cell carcinoma in 5% and for upper tract transitional cell carcinoma in 3%.


Operating time depended mainly on the pathology of the kidney (that is small dysplastic organ versus large hydronephrosis) and the learning curve of the surgeon. However, the average operating time did not vary significantly among the different centers (maximum 277.6 and minimum 81.9 minutes). Intraoperative or perioperative complications were noted in 29 patients (6.0%), including bleeding in 22 (4.6%), bowel injury in 3, hypercarbia in 2 and pleura lesion in 1 and pulmonary embolism in 1. The conversion rate was 10.3% (bleeding, bowel injury, difficult dissection), including 4 patients with renal tuberculosis, 2 with xanthogranulomatous nephritis, and 1 each following renal trauma and embolization. The re-intervention rate was 3.4% due to bleeding in 6 cases, abscess formation in 3, intestinal stenosis in 2 and a pancreatic fistula and port hernia in 1. Mean hospital stay was 5.4 days.


Laparoscopic nephrectomy has become a well established procedure in those urology departments focusing on laparoscopy. The indications and results are reproducible at these centers. However, for patients with severe perinephritis (that is renal tuberculosis, xanthogranulomatous nephritis, posttraumatic atrophy) a higher likelihood of open conversion must be considered.

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