For kidney cancers that are of the appropriate size (generally less than 4 cm), it is now recognized that the entire kidney does not need to be removed for control of the cancer. If the cancer can be completely excised while leaving the remainder of the kidney, the same long-term disease-free results can be achieved by doing a partial nephrectomy as opposed to a complete removal of the kidney. This technique also allows for the preservation of as much kidney function as possible.
Four or five 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch incisions are made on the abdomen through which a telescope and dissecting instruments are inserted to perform the excision and removal of the tumor in the kidney. This operation usually requires a 2- to 3-inch incision to allow for complete removal of the tumor and control of bleeding from the kidney during this operation. The laparoscopic partial nephrectomy has less pain after the operation compared to an open partial nephrectomy. The hospital stay is usually 2-3 days. The recovery time and time to return to regular activities is quick, usually 2-3 weeks after the operation.