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Hands on Approach to Kidney Removal: March 4, 2014

Symptoms came on fast and furious. Robert Wiseman suddenly felt extreme pain coupled with blood in his urine, he thought it was a kidney stone, but it was much more serious.

“I went to the emergency room and that’s how they found out. They gave me a CAT scan and realized it was a big tumor,” says Robert Wiseman.

A really big tumor, his left kidney was twice the size of his right. To treat the cancer, it had to come out. Usually a big operation with a 12-inch incision, his doctor believed he could spare Wiseman the worst.

“I told him ‘look I think I can take your tumor out laparoscopically’. Because usually bigger than 10-12 cm you can’t get them out. But it was in a location I was very comfortable since I’ve had a lot of experience doing these,” says Dr. Paul Bretton, urologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

The surgery was a hand-assisted laparascopic kidney removal. It takes the best of two surgical techniques and brings them together in one operation.

“Most surgeons are trained to do open operation where they use their hands, instruments and all these kind of things. We’ve evolved doing these things laparoscopically- so this is kind of a cross between the two of them and it improves the outcomes,” says Dr. Bretton.

Traditional laparoscopy requires surgeons to insert slender tools into the body through a few small poke holes. Using this sleeve-like port doctors can now insert their hand without violating the airtight cavity needed to expand the abdomen.

“You’re able to put your hand on the organ; you’re able to feel the blood supply to the kidney. It’s a lot safer for the patient and decreases the operative time,” says Dr. Bretton.

The hands on approach also lead to faster healing times and less pain medication since this downsized operation is less traumatic to the body.

“I was in the hospital, up the next day and everything is good,” says Wiseman.

Only two weeks post-op Wiseman was back at work with little to show for his hardship.

“One incision that's going 5 or 6 inches across here and two small incisions,” says Wiseman.

The best news of all - he is cancer free.

“We had checked if it had spread anywhere else and fortunately for him it was all contained to his kidney,” says Dr. Bretton.