Ohio State Pioneers Single-Incision Robotic Kidney Surgery

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

With just a single two-inch incision in the patient’s abdomen, urologic surgeon Dr. Ronney Abaza is able to perform a robotic-assisted surgery to remove a cancerous kidney. Only a handful of medical centers nationwide perform such minimally invasive single-port robotic-assisted surgeries, and Abaza, who treats patients at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, is the first in central Ohio to perform the procedures.

Typically, such surgeries use four small incisions – three for instrumentation and one for a miniature camera that allows the surgeon to see inside the body. Robotic arms or assistant instruments are inserted through the four tiny incisions in the body.

“But we found that we can do the same surgery with only three robotic arms through a single port, removing the kidney through the same single incision near the belly button,” says Abaza, director of Robotic Urologic Surgery at The Ohio State University Medical Center.


Such minimally invasive surgery techniques benefit patients because they involve fewer incisions, less blood loss, less pain, and shorter hospital stays and recovery times, according to Abaza, who specializes in robotic-assisted surgeries to treat prostate, bladder and kidney cancers.

“The first five patients who received this treatment at The James went home the day after surgery,” says Abaza. “We are pioneering these techniques and are continuing to refine them.”

During robotic-assisted operations, the surgeon manipulates the controls at a console, looking through a viewfinder at magnified images transmitted from inside the patient’s abdomen. The procedure has been used for years in heart and prostate surgeries.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 57,760 new cases of kidney cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year, and that 12,980 people will die from this disease. Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in both men and women, and is most common in people between the ages of 55 and 84.

For reasons that remain unclear, the rate of people developing kidney cancer has been rising slowly since the 1970s. Some of this may be due to the development of CT scans and other imaging tests, which detect some cancers that may have been missed otherwise. The death rates for kidney cancer have remained fairly stable since the mid-1980s.