Robot-assisted and conventional laparoscopic partial nephrectomies have similar outcomes and complication rates, according to a study published in The Journal of Urology (2012;188:45-50).

Jonathan S. Ellison, MD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues compared perioperative outcomes and complications from conventional laparoscopic and robot-assisted partial nephrectomy cases from January 2007 to June 2010. Robot-assisted partial nephrectomies were performed by a heterogeneous group of surgeons, while a single experienced laparoscopic surgeon performed the conventional procedures. One hundred eight pairs of patients were matched by age, hilar nature of the tumor, approach, and R.E.N.A.L. (radius, exophytic/endophytic properties, nearness of tumor to collecting system or sinus, anterior/posterior, location relative to polar lines) nephrometry score.

The researchers found that nephrometry score, age, gender, tumor side, and American Society of Anesthesia physical status classification were similar between the groups. Conventional laparoscopic partial nephrectomy had better operative time. Robot-assisted partial nephrectomy showed significant improvements in estimated blood loss and warm ischemia time compared to the conventional laparoscopic group. The postoperative complication rates and complication distributions by Clavien classification and type were similar for both groups (41.7% for the conventional group and 35% for the robot-assisted group).

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“Robot-assisted partial nephrectomy has a noticeable but rapid learning curve,” the researchers wrote. “After it is overcome the robotic procedure results in perioperative outcomes similar to those achieved with conventional laparoscopic partial nephrectomy done by an experienced surgeon.”