Indian Journal of Urology
: 2000  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 88--91

Laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy in the context of the Indian subcontinent

Hari Siva T Gurunadha Rao, Sakti Das 
 Department of Urology, University of California Davis, School of Medicine, Sacramento, USA

Correspondence Address:
Sakti Das
Dept. of Urology, University of California Davis School of Medicine, 4860 Y Street, Suite 2100, Sacramento, CA 95817

How to cite this article:
Gurunadha Rao HT, Das S. Laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy in the context of the Indian subcontinent.Indian J Urol 2000;16:88-91

How to cite this URL:
Gurunadha Rao HT, Das S. Laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy in the context of the Indian subcontinent. Indian J Urol [serial online] 2000 [cited 2022 Jan 21 ];16:88-91
Available from:

Full Text

Laparoscopic surgery has established its role as the pre­ferred minimally invasive therapy for various urologic ailments. With its proven efficacy and safety in adrenal­ectomy, orchiopexy, ureterolithotomy and simple nephrec­tomy where it yields comparable outcome and less mor­bidity, laparoscopic techniques are being propagated for more advanced indications like radical nephrectomy, ret­roperitoneal lymph node dissection and live donor nephrec­tomy. Gill et al [1] first performed laparoscopic donor ne­phrectomy in a porcine model. This laid the groundwork for Ratner et al from Johns Hopkins University to per­form the first laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy in 1995 [2] .

Live donor renal transplantation is preferable to a ca­daver allograft because of its many advantages to the re­cipient including improved patient and graft survival, rapid return of function, shorter hospital stay and lower mor­bidity.

The complication rates with open donor nephrectomy range from 8% to 47%. [3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9] D'Alessandro et al reported a 17% overall complication rate in a review of their 28-year experience with open live-related donor nephrectomy. [5] A review of reports from multiple medical centers with up to 28 years follow-up reveals a 16% overall complication rate in 3657 patients . [4],[5],[6],[7] In these series, mortality was 0.03%, estimated blood loss was 250 to 300 ml, mean operative time was approximately 4 hours and mean postoperative hospital stay was 5 days.

Postoperative complications of around 14% in the laparoscopic donor group are comparable to open se­ries. [10],[11],[12] These complications include bowel injury sec­ondary to trocar placement, devascularisation of the ure­ter, retroperitoneal hematoma and delayed epigastric arte­rial bleeding requiring open surgical repair. Most of these complications occurred in the early part of these series.

Minor complications such as wound infections and uri­nary tract infections have been rare in the laparoscopic and open groups. There have been no reported mortalities with laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy.

Intraoperative conversion to open nephrectomy occurred in 5.7%, 5.9% and 8.3% instances in various series during laparoscopic donor nephrectomy. [10],[13],[14] The incidence of open conversion is expected to decline with increased experience. By all parameters monitored, serum creati­nine, urine output, postoperative acute tubular necrosis and need for hemodialysis and allograft rejection/survival, the kidneys procured laparoscopically appear to perform as well as those obtained via the open procedure. [14]

Several series have compared the laparoscopic approach with a similar open cohort. [10],[11],[12],[15,[16] The mean estimated blood loss in the laparoscopic group was 173 ml com­pared with 400 ml in the open group (p [12] The mean operating time (245 min vs. 215 min), warm ischemia time (4.1 min vs. 2.2 min) and time for diuresis after revascularization (48 min vs. 4.1 min) were longer in the laparoscopy group. [16] But none of the recipients required hemodialysis and the authors feel that vasodilating agents (PG El) may help to decrease the time for initial diuresis. Serum creatinine levels in the recipient at 1 week and 1 month after laparoscopic donor nephrectomy allograft was significantly higher than in the corresponding open donor nephrectomy group (2.8 vs. 1.8 mg/dl and 2.0 vs. 1.6 mg/ dl). But at 3 and 6 months after transplantation, the serum creatinine levels were similar in both the groups (1.7 vs. 1.5 mg/dl and 1.7 vs. 1.7 mg/dl, respectively). By 1-year post-transplant, the mean serum creatinine for laparoscopic nephrectomy was actually less than that for the open ne­phrectomy group (1.4 and 1.7 mg/dl, respectively). [17] It appears that higher serum creatinine levels in the immedi­ate post-transplantation period raised the concern for possible rejection and significantly more patients in the laparoscopic nephrectomy group (25.2%) were prescribed tacrolimus within the first month than those in the open nephrectomy group (2.1 %). [17] The initial higher serum cre­atinine levels in the laparoscopy group did not impact on graft survival, which was equivalent in both groups. [18] There appears to be no difference in proven episodes of rejection when comparing similar groups. Although pa­tients in the laparoscopic nephrectomy group compared to the open nephrectomy group were more likely to have delayed graft function (7.6 vs. 2.0%) and ureteral compli­cations (4.5 vs. 1.0%), the rate of other complications, pa­tient and graft survival rates were similar in the two groups, indicating that there is no significant difference in longer term graft function despite the slower initial renal recov­ery in the laparoscopy group. [17] There was an increased risk of venous thrombosis when using right-sided kidneys due to the shorter length of the right renal vein producing tension on the venous anastomosis, resulting in postop­erative thrombosis. These initial problems of venous thrombosis of the graft kidney and increased ureteral com­plications are now prevented by restricting to the harvest of left kidney only and refinements in the operative tech­nique avoiding skeletonizing the ureter. [12] In fact, in the last 50 patients reported by Fabrizio et al, the ureteral com­plication rate in the recipient has dropped below that of open donor nephrectomy. [12] The procedure can be per­formed safely even in the setting of multiple donor renal arteries without adverse effects on early allograft func­tion. [19] With these modifications, laparoscopic nephrectomy appears to provide a donor kidney of equal efficacy as that obtained with open donation.

The hospital stay was reduced by 50% in the laparo­scopic donors and patients returned to work sooner (3.9 vs. 6.4 weeks). [10],[11] Laparoscopic approach results in less postoperative pain and quicker convalescence compared with open donation [Table 1]. [12]

The learning curve for laparoscopic nephrectomy is steep. But recently various ancillary methods like hand­assisted laparoscopic approach, [20] gasless laparoscopy-as­sisted method [21] have been developed which will be help­ful in decreasing the slope of this learning curve. Gasless laparoscopy can avoid deterioration of renal hemo­dynamics and resultant oliguria induced by carbon diox­ide insufflation. Slakey et al showed that hand-assisted live donor nephrectomy achieved an adequate length of artery, vein and ureter and a decrease in the mean operat­ing time and most importantly a significantly shorter warm ischemia time when compared to the classical laparoscopic donor nephrectomy. [20] Drehmer et al have shown in a pro­spective study that retroperitoneoscopic hand-assisted live donor nephrectomy compared favorably with open live donor nephrectomy with regard to perioperative morbid­ity, cosmesis and graft outcome . [22] There was no conver­sion to the open method in their series. Formal training courses, apprenticeships and the use of various assisted devices and techniques mentioned above can shorten the learning curve of laparoscopy.

Laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy is expected to increase the number of willing donors. At Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, the number of living donors increased by greater than 100% after laparoscopic donor nephrectomy was started [12] and this has been seen at other centers performing the procedure. [10] Approximately 20% of patients insist they would not have donated if laparo­scopic donor nephrectomy was not available. [12] Potential donors may be more willing to undergo laparoscopic ne­phrectomy than open nephrectomy, thus increasing the organ supply.

Despite the enactment of the Human Organ Transplan­tation and Brain Death Legislation by the Indian Parlia­ment and its subsequent adoption by most of the states of Indian Union, cadaveric organ donation does not seem to be well accepted yet by Indian populace. Therefore, ma­jority of renal transplantation procedures performed in India encompass a live-related donor for transplantation. There are very few centres in the country promoting ca­daver renal allograft transplantation. Even in these centers, the live-related renal allografts far outnumber the cadaver renal allografts. This fact has got an important bearing to lead us to further seriously consider incorporation of laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy in the Indian sce­nario.

In view of the great magnitude of patients with end stage renal disease on the waiting lists of most transplant pro­grams in India, expansion of donor pool by accepting eld­erly donors (> 60 years age) and marginal donors needs to be explored. Laparoscopic nephrectomy by virtue of its minimally invasive nature and less morbidity would be suitable for these relatively higher risk donors. Lapa­roscopic live donor nephrectomy can be performed with­out compromise to the allograft. It has been shown to re­sult in less postoperative discomfort, improved cosmetic outcome and rapid recovery for the donor. The apparent increase in cost of therapy related to technology, equip­ment costs and increased operating room time would be offset by shorter hospitalisation, earlier return to vocation and gain of working hours. The complication rates appear equivalent to comparable open donor nephrectomy series. Laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy may ultimately in­crease the total number of live-related kidney transplants.

Laparoscopic donor nephrectomy is especially suited to a country like India where cadaveric renal transplanta­tion is still marginally endorsed and most transplant pro­grams predominantly utilize live renal allografts. It is im­perative for us to initiate learning programs through work­shops, training courses and apprenticeships so that increas­ing number of urologists can offer the minimally invasive choice of laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy to our countrymen.[26]


1Gill IS, Carbone JM, Clayman RV et al. Laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy. J Endourol 1994; 8: 143-148.
2Ratner LE, Cisek LJ, Moore RG et al. Laparoscopic donor nephrec­tomy. Transplantation 1995; 60: 1047-1049.
3Ruiz R, Novick AC. Braun WE et al. Transperitoneal live donor nephrectomy. J Urol 1980; 123: 819-821.
4Streem SB, Novick AC. Steinmuller DR, Graneto D. Flank donor nephrectomy: efficacy in the donor and recipient. J Urol 1989; 141: 1099-1101.
5D'Alessandro AM, Sollinger HW, Knechtle SJ et al. Living related and unrelated donors for kidney transplantation: a 28-year experi­ence. Ann Surg 1995: 222: 353-364.
6Johnson EM, Remucal MJ, Gillingham KJ et al. Complications and risks of living donor nephrectomy. Transplantation 1997; 64: 1124-1128.
7Shaffer D, Sahyoun AE, Madras PN et al. Two hundred and one consecutive living donor nephrectomies. Arch Surg 1998; 133: 426-431.
8Waples MJ, Belzer FO, Uehling DT. Living donor nephrectomy: a 20 year experience. Urology 1995; 45: 207-210.
9Fossa A, Leivestad T, Brekke IB et a1. Unrelated living donors in 141 kidney transplantations. Transplantation 1998; 66: 49-52.
10Flowers JL, Jacobs S. Cho E et al. Comparison of open and laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy. Ann Surg 1997; 226: 483-490.
11Ratner LE, Kavoussi LR, Sroka M et al. Laparoscopic assisted live donor nephrectomy - a comparison with the open approach. Trans­plantation 1997; 63: 229-233.
12Fabrizio MD, Ratner LE, Kavoussi LR. Laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy. Pro. Urology 1999; 53: 665-667.
13Guy SR, Knight R, Solomon M et al. Laparosocpic nephrectomy in living kidney donors (abstract). Presented at the Transplantation Society XVII World Congress, Montreal, Canada, July 1998.
14London E, Perez R, McVicar J et al. Equivalent renal allograft func­tion with laparoscopic versus open live donor nephrectomies (ab­stract). Presented at the American Society of Transplant Surgeons' Seventeenth Annual meeting, Chicago, Illinois, May 1998.
15Hiller J, Sroka M. Holochek MJ et al. Functional advantages of laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy compared with conventional open donor nephrectomy. J Transplant Coord 1997; 7: 134-140.
16Suzuki K, Ishikawa A, Ushiyama T et al. Gasless Laparoscopy­assisted Live Donor Nephrectomy: The Initial 23 cases. Abst No 1488, AUA 94th Annual Meeting, May 1-6, 1999. J Urol 1999; 161: 384.
17Noguiera JM, Cangro CB, Fink JC et al. A comparison of recipient renal outcomes with laparoscopic versus open live donor nephrec­tomy. Transplantation 1999; 67: 722-728.
18Novick AC. Laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy. Con, Urology 1999; 53: 668-670.
19Perez RV, Huftless RD, Das S et al. Laparoscopic procurement of the kidney with multiple arteries: safe or sorry? (in press)
20Slakey D, Ruiz-Deya G, Thomas R. Laparoscopic Donor Nephrec­tomy: Classical Laparoscopic vs. Hand-assisted Laparoscopic Tech­niques. Abst No 1490, AUA 94th Annual Meeting, May 1-6, 1999. J Urol 1999: 161: 384.
21Suzuki K, Ushiyama T, Ishikawa A et al. Clinical experience with laparoscopy-assisted live donor nephrectomy. Nippon Hinyokika Gakkai Zasshi 1996; 87: 748-753.
22Drehmer I. Rassweiler J, Heilbronn, Staehler G, Wiesel M. The Retroperitoneoscopic Laparoscopic-assisted Living Donor Ne­phrectomy - First Experiences. Abst No 1494, AUA 94th Annual Meeting, May 1-6, 1999. J Urol 1999; 161: 384.
23Philosophe B, Kuo P, Schweitzer EJ et al. Laparoscopic vs. Open donor nephrectomy: comparing ureteral complications and improv­ing the laparoscopic technique (abstract). Presented at the Trans­plantation Society XVII World Congress, Montreal, Canada, July 1998.
24Ratner LE, Bishoff JT, Montgomery RA et al. Laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy: long term results (abstract). J Urol 1998: 159: 182.
25Wolf JS Jr, Tchetgen MB, Merion RM. Hand-assisted laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy. Urology 1998; 52: 885-887.
26Yang SC, Park DS, Lee DH, Lee JM, Park K. Retroperitoneal en­doscopic live donor nephrectomy: report of 3 cases. J Urol 1995; 153: 1884-1886.