Laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy (LDN) is a less invasive alternative to traditional open nephrectomy that has several potential advantages. However, there have been few large series reports describing the complications of LDN and the details of their management. We performed a retrospective review of 500 LDNs performed at our center between October 1997 and September 2003. We evaluated preoperative donor characteristics, intraoperative parameters and complications, and postoperative recovery and complications. A modification of the Clavien classification was developed and used to grade the severity of all complications. The overall rate of intraoperative complications was 2.8%. There were 9 open conversions (1.8%), of which 6 were in the first 100 cases. Six of the 9 open conversions were for management of complications; 3 were elective. Seven renovascular incidents (1.4%) all required open conversion except one. The overall rate of postoperative complications was 3.4%. Thirty of 500 patients in our LDN series experienced an intraoperative or procedure-related complication (6.0%). When graded by severity, 18 of 31 (58.1%) of all complications were grade 1, 11 of 31 (35.4%) grade 2, and 2 of 31 (6.5%) grade 3. Only 1 recipient experienced delayed graft function, and only 1 recipient had a urologic complication. Our series supports the safety and efficacy of LDN with very low intraoperative complication and conversion rates. Most of the intraoperative complications can be managed laparoscopically. Readmissions are extremely rare (1.5%). Aberrant vascular anatomy and obesity are not contraindications to LDN, but they require experience. With careful surgical technique, delayed graft function and urologic complications in recipients can be avoided. A graded classification scheme for reporting complications of donor nephrectomy might be useful for maintaining registry information on donor outcomes and when informing potential donors about the risks and benefits of this procedure.
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