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Urology. 1998 Oct;52(4):584-90.

Partial nephrectomy: alternative treatment for selected patients with renal cell carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



To analyze the experience and the results of partial nephrectomy in a single institution over the last 10 years in order to optimize patient selection and minimize morbidity.


This is a retrospective chart review of 64 patients (mean age 56.6 years, range 18 to 88; 43 men, 21 women) who underwent 66 partial nephrectomies at the Brigham and Women's Hospital between 1987 and 1997. Preoperatively, 62% of the patients had no symptoms, whereas 38% had pain and/or hematuria. The indications were elective in 23 patients, solitary kidney in 28 (14 with bilateral asynchronous tumor), bilateral synchronous tumor in 7, von Hippel-Lindau disease with normal contralateral kidney in 3, lymphoma in 3, and other indications in 2 patients. Surgery was performed for solid or indeterminate renal mass suspected of being renal cell carcinoma in 58 patients.


The most common final pathologic diagnosis was renal cell carcinoma in 47 procedures. One or more complications occurred after 18 procedures (15 with solitary kidney and 3 in patients with normal contralateral kidney) or 27% of the patients. The most common complication was an increased creatinine level (two times the baseline), occurring in 10 procedures (15.1%). Transfusion was necessary in 37 of 66 procedures (56%), and the mean blood loss was 836 cc (range 100 to 3200). Regarding renal function, 85% of the patients had a minimal increase in creatinine of less than 0.5 mg/dL after surgery (all patients with a normal contralateral kidney are in this group); 3 patients required either temporary (n = 1) or permanent (n = 2) dialysis. Other complications are also described. The mean length of stay among 65 patients was 6.5 days (range 3 to 14). The differences between length of stay, blood loss, and tumor size were statistically significant between the solitary kidney group and the elective indications group (P < 0.001).


Nephron sparing surgery is feasible and relatively safe in patients with a normal contralateral kidney. Awareness of potential complications should aid in the selection of appropriate patients for this procedure.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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