Surgeons based at Royal Liverpool Hospital have carried out the first European kidney transplant by using keyhole surgery.
The technique was originally developed in India and offers patients the chance to recover much faster after the surgical procedure.
A normal kidney transplant involves open surgery and a massive incision.
The team used keyhole surgery and an incision of only 6cm (2in) to implant the donor kidney. This smaller incision is less invasive and allows the patient to heal in a shorter time.
Professor Pranjal Modi from the Institute of Kidney Diseases and Research Centre in Ahmedabad developed the procedure. He said it is beneficial to the patient and the patients he has consulted with are all very happy about the technique used. He added that the results are so good that it has encouraged him to continue using this method.
A company director, Brian Blanchfield, had lived with a failing kidney for many years, prior to his sister, Pam, donating one of hers. He was moving about just four days after undergoing the procedure. The doctors informed him that he would be the first patient to undergo the procedure and asked where he wanted the incision to be made. He already had an appendix scar and that is where they made the incision.
A consultant transplant surgeon at the Royal Liverpool, Sanjay Mehra, who assisted during the procedure, believes that the benefits of the procedure are significant. He said in the past renal transplant patients would end up with a scar of between 20 and 25 cm, but with this procedure the scar is only about 6cm. Not only is this of cosmetic benefit, but muscle is normally cut during the long incision, which could result in long-term problems.
The director of research operations for Kidney Research UK, Elaine Davies, said around 6000 people, almost 90% of the total organ waiting list, are waiting for a suitable kidney. However, only 3000 transplant are done annually.
She said due to the smaller wound that is created, the recovery time improves and the surgical complications are limited, which is better for the patient. She added that keyhole surgery for retrieving kidneys has already made a huge difference to donors. She stated as long as the technique for transplantation of a kidney remains as effective and safe as the current method used, the development will be welcomed.
This technique will not be used during every kidney transplant. It is most suited to those patients who are severely overweight as abdominal surgery carries higher risk.
This surgical procedure indicates the new options surgeons have available for the most complicated operations.
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