Sunday, July 20, 2008

Single-incision surgery is boon to organ transplants

This exciting new technique may bode well for the thousands of patients waiting for a kidney transplant. Potential living donors who were reluctant to go through with it due to the long recovery time for traditional surgery may now be willing to be a donor.

From The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio:

By Angela Townsend
By year's end, virtually all kidneys removed for donation at the Cleveland Clinic will be removed through a single incision at the belly button.

That's Dr. Inderbir Gill's prediction.

He should know. Since November, the chairman of the urology department at the Clinic's Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute has performed the operation 11 times, most recently on Thursday, after which he said, "It went beautifully."

More than 90 percent of donor kidneys in the U.S. are now removed with standard laparoscopic techniques that have been around for more than a decade.

"As people become more familiar and comfortable with it, and as our data is substantiated by others, virtually all will be done single port," said Gill, who is currently training other Clinic physicians in the new technique. "Patients are going to drive this technology."

That could mean more people -- previously turned off by the long recovery time -- willing to become kidney donors.

More than 80,000 Americans are awaiting kidney transplants.

Last year, there were about 13,300 kidney donors in the United States, and about 45 percent were living donors, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. Gill's single-incision patients, and the recipients of their kidneys, have recovered well. "So far, we have not had any complications," he said.

A report on the first four patients appears in the August issue of the Journal of Urology. Preliminary data from the first nine donors showed they recovered in just under a month, and have been going back to work sooner than that, in about 17 days. Donors who underwent the traditional laparoscopic procedure with four to six small incisions at the abdomen took just longer than three months to recover, and returned to work in 51 days.

The method takes advantage of the belly button to avoid a visible scar... Read the full story.

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