How We Perform Our Surgery
All of our patients are administered general endotracheal anesthesia. This means the child is completely asleep with anesthesia. The endotracheal tube protects the airway and allows us to breathe for the patient. We perform formal cystoscopy at the start of our procedures. Here we use a camera to look inside the bladder and pass a stent with an infrared laser fiber (Infravision infrared ureteral stent, Gabriel Medical, Inc., Lafayette, LA) for assistance in identification and dissection of the ureter, if need be. Three small skin incisions are made in order to place the laparoscopic camera and surgical instruments. The incisions are 1.5 cm in size usually, making them small enough to be dressed with a Band-Aid at the end of the case.
The first incision is made in the upper portion of the umbilicus. Carbon dioxide gas is used to insufflate the belly allowing us to have room to visualize and perform the procedure. The other two incisions are made just below the rib overlying the affected kidney, and over the region of the hipbone. Now with all of the instruments in place, the kidney and ureter can be freed from surrounding tissues and all portions of the kidney that need to be removed can be done laparoscopically. At the end of the procedure, the abdominal cavity is inspected for any sites of bleeding. Once all is bleeding is stopped, the skin incisions are covered with Band-Aids or appropriate sterile dressings.
The patient is immediately transported to the recovery room after being wakened in the operating room. Most of the children can eat a regular meal the same day and go home that day. Some of the older children spend an extra day in the hospital until they can tolerate a regular meal.
Potential complications include infection, bleeding, and anesthesia related complications. At our center, not a single case has been converted to an open procedure. We were able to perform all of the cases laparoscopically, as intended. Additionally, not a single child has been transfused. Our blood loss averages less than 5 cc (a tablespoon). Anesthesia related concerns are always present in any operation. We are blessed with a talented staff of pediatric anesthesiologists who only administer anesthesia to children and are specialty trained in pediatric anesthesia. With their help, we are able to report a 0% rate of anesthesia related complications during our laparoscopic cases.
Laparoscopy and minimally invasive surgery are gaining popularity for a number of different procedures in pediatric urology, with the primary universal advantages of reduced patient post-operative discomfort, decreased duration of hospital stays, and improved cosmetic results. As procedures have been performed successfully on adults, their application to the pediatric population has been investigated with good results, even in very young patients.
Minimally invasive surgery and laparoscopy have rapidly come to the forefront as a feasible option for children with certain urological diseases. The advantages of decreased post-operative pain, short hospital stays (with the possibility of performing such procedures on an outpatient basis in select patients), and improved cosmetic results are evident.