Purpose: We retrospectively compared our initial experience with the hand-assisted and retroperitoneal laparoscopic nephrectomy techniques to determine if there are important differences between these approaches. Patients and Methods: Twenty-four laparoscopic cases consisting of 12 hand-assisted and 12 retroperitoneal nephrectomies were compared. All cases but one were radical nephrectomies with intact specimen extraction performed for suspected stage T1 neoplasms. Data were collected from medical records and a postoperative questionnaire. To determine if significant learning curves existed, the first six nephrectomies in each group were compared with the second six nephrectomies on the basis of operative criteria. The two groups did not differ significantly in age, body mass index, ASA rating, or number of previous abdominal operations. Results: Although the mean tumor volume was greater in the hand-assisted group than the retroperitoneal group, the difference did not quite reach statistical significance (91.19 v 24.7 cc3; P = 0.06). The mean operative time, estimated blood loss, narcotic use (milligrams of intravenous morphine equivalent), hours to oral intake, hospital stay, and estimated percent activity at 2 weeks for the hand-assisted group (238.33 min, 293.75 mL, 35.7 mg, 17.56 hours, 4.4 days, 74.75%, respectively) were not significantly different from the values in the retroperitoneal group (255.83 min, 141.67 mL, 24.5 mg, 22.36 hours, 3.6 days, 76.91%). We found no significant difference in the mean operative times for the first and second six cases in either group. Conclusion: In the initial experience and comparison of hand-assisted and retroperitoneal laparoscopic nephrectomy, we found no significant differences in operative time, estimated blood loss, narcotic usage, hours to oral intake, hospital stay, or activity level at 2 weeks postoperatively. A randomized trial is under way at our institution.
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