Minimally-invasive surgery being used to remove kidneys


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Imagine removing and pulling a full cancerous kidney through a small, two inch hole in the abdomen! Instead of full-blown surgery, some patients are opting for this minimally-invasive procedure that gets them back on their feet within days, not months.

Minimally-invasive surgery being used to remove kidneys

While at the last session of the Legislature, something went wrong with one of Rep. DeMar "Bud" Bowman's kidneys. The traditional choice for emergency surgery would have been to make an incision from the belly clear around to the mid back, slicing through muscle and a rib, literally cutting the body almost in half to remove the kidney and a tumor about the size of a grapefruit.

But Bowman chose another option, to take the kidney out the laparoscopic way. "I was back up here within three days or five days. I came up twice during the last two days," he said.

Minimally-invasive surgery being used to remove kidneys

How did he do it? Dr. Jay Bishoff inserted a tool through one of four small incisions on his abdomen, netting the kidney much like snaring a fish. "And once inside the abdomen, it deploys a small bag, the bag unfurls, and we catch the kidney in the bag," Bishoff said.

The bag pulls away from the device, the ring pulls back inside the tube, "and then we make a slight enlargement of the hole inside the abdomen, just big enough to allow the bag with its tumor or the entire kidney to slide out," Bishoff explained.

Instead of four months recovering from major surgery, patients are back to work within three to four weeks, in some cases five to seven days.

So what if Bud's tumor been the size of a golf ball on the backside of his kidney? For smaller tumors, there's yet another option. The incision is even smaller and it's less invasive. Imagine a needle literally destroying, cooking the tumor. A small energized antenna deployed from the tip of the needle disintegrates the tumor from the inside out.

"Then when we are finished, and this takes about 10 minutes, we pull that antenna back inside the needle, we slide the needle out, and we put a Band-aid on their back, and they go home," Bishoff said.

Patients of this procedure usually go home the same day.

Though 95 percent of kidneys can be taken out with laparoscopic devices, few patients know about it. Dr. Bishoff says it's unfortunate that only 30 percent of diseased kidneys are currently being removed this way.

E-mail: eyeates@ksl.com

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