Robot-assisted partial nephrectomy (RAPN) is a possible alternative to open nephrectomy for treating patients with renal tumors larger than 4 cm, researchers say.

In a study of 49 patients who underwent RAPN for tumors of this size, the rate of positive surgical margins was not significantly different from that of a comparison group of patients who underwent RAPN for tumors 4 cm or smaller, demonstrating that RAPN is an oncologically safe procedure for tumors larger than 4 cm, according to an online report in the World Journal of Urology.

The researchers, led by Vincenzo Ficarra, MD, of the Onze Lieve Vrouw Clinic Aalst in Aalst, Belgium, found that the patients with the larger tumors had worse perioperative outcomes than the group with smaller tumors.

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Of the 49 patients, 13 (26.5%) had postoperative complications; major complications occurred in four (8.2%).