Background. Laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy (LDN) is a less invasive alternative to open nephrectomy (ODN) for living kidney donation. Concerns have been raised regarding the safety of LDN, the short and long term function of kidneys removed by LDN, and a potential higher incidence of urologic complications in LDN transplant recipients. Methods. Between October 1997 and May 1999, 80 LDNs were performed at our center. All patients were followed longitudinally with office visits and telephone interviews. These LDNs were compared with 50 ODN performed from January 1996 to October 1997. Results. LDN procedures took significantly longer than ODN (4.6 vs. 3.1 hr). However, LDN was associated with significant reduction in i.v. narcotic use, a rapid return to diet, and shorter hospital stay. Of the 80 LDN procedures, a total of 75 (94%) were completed laparoscopically. Five patients were converted to laparotomy: Three for hemorrhage and two for complex vascular anatomy. ODN conversion was associated with large donor body habitus and/or obesity. Seven LDN patients had minor complications and 4 had major complications. All major complications consisted of vascular injuries (2 lumbar vein injuries, 1 renal artery, and 1 aortic injury). All patients made complete recoveries. All LDN kidneys functioned immediately posttransplant. We have observed 100% patient and 97% 1-year actuarial graft survival in LDN transplant recipients. There have been no short- or long-term urologic complications in this series. Conclusion. With increasing experience and standardization of technique, LDN is a safe and effective procedure. Patients undergoing LDN demonstrate clinically significant, more rapid postoperative recoveries and shorter hospital stays than ODN patients. Excellent initial graft function and long-term graft survival have been observed with LDN kidneys. Urologic complications can be avoided. LDN has become the preferred surgical approach for living kidney donation at our center.
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