Minimally Invasive Transplant Surgery

More than 80,000 people are waiting for an organ at any given time. And the wait can take years. The supply of organs simply cannot keep up with the demand.

The University of Chicago Medicine is helping to solve this problem by encouraging living donation for people who need kidney transplants. Thanks to minimally invasive advances, donating a kidney has become a lot easier on living donors. Almost 100 percent of the living donor kidney surgeries performed here are done laparoscopically. Only a few small incisions are now needed to remove a kidney. Living kidney donors recover fairly quickly. They are out of the hospital in two days and often back to work in two to three weeks.

The transplant recipients also benefit: Living donor kidneys tend to work better and last longer than kidneys from deceased donors.

More Donors Now Benefit

Our premier transplant surgeons perform laparoscopic kidney donor surgeries on an almost weekly basis. As a result, they have become experts in this minimally invasive surgery. They are even able to perform this operation on donors who are considered higher-risk because of past surgeries or other medical problems, such as obesity. Elsewhere, these donors would not be allowed to donate or they would have to undergo open surgery that requires a large incision and a longer recovery.

In the near future, people who donate livers may also be spared open surgery. Our transplant surgeons are evaluating laparoscopic approaches for living liver donors.

At the Forefront of Technology

Our transplant surgeons are also using minimally invasive approaches to treat complications that develop in transplant patients before or after they've received a new organ. For instance, some patients develop tumors in their liver or kidney while waiting for a transplant. We can shrink or remove these tumors so the patient is still a good candidate for a transplant. To do this, our surgeons and physicians use various minimally invasive techniques that only require a few small incisions. Two of these techniques are:

  • Laparoscopic cryotherapy, which involves freezing the tumor to destroy it
  • Radiofrequency ablation, which involves heating and destroying the tumor with electrical currents

World-Class Surgeons

Our surgeons have performed thousands of transplant surgeries--earning national and international esteem for their surgical expertise and research. They work side-by-side with specially trained transplant physicians and nurses who provide unmatched expertise before and after a transplant. Our team also includes a transplant pharmacist, social worker, financial counselor, and other support staff who work solely with transplant patients.


Appointments

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Conditions

Our surgeons treat the following problems with minimally invasive techniques, in addition to performing laparoscopic living donor kidney surgery:

  • Cancers that develop in potential transplant patients: laparoscopic cryotherapy, radiofrequency ablation, and other procedures
  • Various complications that may develop after transplant: laparoscopic surgery