Keyhole Kidney Cancer Surgery (Laparoscopic Kidney Surgery)

Home Keyhole Kidney Cancer Surgery (Laparoscopic Kidney Surgery)

Keyhole Kidney Cancer Surgery (Laparoscopic Kidney Surgery): Laparoscopic Partial Nephrectomy & Laparoscopic Radical Nephrectomy

Surgery is the main definitive treatment option for kidney cancer that has not spread beyond the kidney. Keyhole kidney cancer surgery (laparoscopic kidney surgery) can be either a partial nephrectomy or a radical nephrectomy. The surgeon determines the most appropriate procedure, depending on the grade and the stage of the cancer, the location of the tumour within the kidney, as well the general health of the patient.

Keyhole kidney cancer surgery: Partial nephrectomy

Partial nephrectomy is a surgical procedure during which the surgeon removes a tumour from the kidney, but leaves the remaining healthy kidney tissue in place. Sometimes this procedure is also referred to as nephron-sparing or kidney-sparing surgery, to preserve as much of the normal kidney function as possible.

This type of keyhole kidney cancer surgery is commonly performed to remove small kidney cancers. Partial nephrectomy is generally indicated for tumours that are 4cm or smaller. However sometimes slightly larger (5-7cm) tumours may also be removed this way, depending on where on the kidney they are. Partial nephrectomy may not be a safe or feasible treatment option for patients with larger kidney tumours, and for those patients, radical (complete) nephrectomy is often indicated.

Keyhole kidney cancer surgery: Radical nephrectomy

During the radical nephrectomy procedure, the entire kidney is removed. The surgeon may also choose to remove some of the surrounding structures, including the adjacent lymph nodes, adrenal gland, or part of the ureter (the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder).

Most radical nephrectomies are now performed using a laparoscopic or robotic-assisted laparoscopic approach. However, this type of keyhole kidney cancer surgery may not be appropriate for very large or very complex tumours. In those cases, a traditional ‘open’ procedure may be recommended by the surgeon.

Keyhole kidney cancer surgery: Advantages

Keyhole kidney cancer surgery is a minimally invasive approach to tumour removal. In selected cases, this surgery may be performed as a ‘robotic-assisted’ laparoscopic procedure.

During the robotic keyhole kidney cancer surgery procedure, the surgeon is entirely in control of the robot at all times. The specialized technology provides the surgeon with a high definition 3D view inside the patient’s body. It also gives the surgeon the ability to make precise use of very small surgical instruments, which have greater range of movements than can be performed by the human hand.

For the patient, robotic keyhole kidney cancer surgery for partial nephrectomy offers significant advantages over traditional surgical approaches. Some of these advantages include:

  • Less trauma: since the robotic keyhole procedure requires smaller incisions
  • Shorter blood cut-off time (ischaemia): the blood supply to the kidney is restricted for less time with robotic keyhole kidney cancer surgery, compared with conventional procedures, reducing the risk of long-term damage to the remaining kidney (for partial nephrectomy)
  • Less blood loss: there is significantly less blood loss associated with robotic keyhole cancer surgery
  • Shorter hospital stay and faster recovery time: compared to conventional surgical methods.

Keyhole kidney cancer surgery

Melbourne Urology Centre specialist Urologists Dr Shekib Shahbaz and Dr Tony de Sousa are experts in performing keyhole kidney cancer surgery. Our specialists will thoroughly evaluate your case, before communicating with you in great detail what type of keyhole kidney cancer surgery (if any) is appropriate for you. Our experienced urological surgeons particularly specialize in robotic laparoscopic procedures, offering our patients the best chance of a successful outcome.

If you would like further information or have any questions regarding keyhole kidney cancer surgery, please contact Melbourne Urology Clinic.

Written by Dr. Shekib Shahbaz and Dr. Tony de Sousa


Cancer Council Victoria, (2021), Kidney Cancer, [], accessed 19/03/21.

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European Association of Urology, (2021), Radical Nephrectomy, [], accessed 28/02/21.

Rogers, C. G., Singh, A., Blatt, A. M., Linehan, M., Pinto, P. A., (2008), Robotic partial nephrectomy for complex renal tumours: surgical technique, European Urology ,53(3), [], accessed 27/02/21.

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