What is Robotic Kidney Surgery? (The James)

What is Robotic Kidney Surgery?

Robotic kidney surgery uses a computerized robotic system to remove all or part of your kidney or repair the drainage system of your kidney. This robotic system is called the da Vinci Surgical System. A robotic system lets your doctor do your surgery with less damage to your body. This is called minimally invasive surgery.

What is a robotic surgical system?

A robotic surgical system is made up of 3 major parts:

  • A high definition 3-D (dimensional) camera, called a laparoscope lets your surgeon view the area inside your body.
  • Tiny robotic arms with small surgical tools. The robotic arms are put in your body through small incisions on your abdomen (belly). Your surgeon controls the robotic arms to do your surgery.
  • A special worktable lets your surgeon controls the camera and robotic arms and tools.

How is a Robotic Kidney Surgery done?

Small surgical incisions (cuts) will be made on your abdomen. A small plastic tube called a port is put into each incision. The ports are used to keep your incision open. The small camera and robotic arms are put through the ports. From the worktable, your surgeon moves the camera and the robotic arms to do your surgery.

How do I prepare for the surgery?

Tell your doctor if you take any medicines or supplements that thin your blood or prevent clots. You may need to change these medicines or adjust the amount you take before your procedure is done.

  • These medicines include:
    • Aspirin
    • Clopidogrel, brand name Plavix
    • Prasugrel, brand name Effient
    • Ticagrelor, brand name Brilinta
    • Apixaban, brand name Eliquis
    • Ticlopidine, brand name Ticlid
    • Warfarin, brand name Coumadin
    • Enoxaparin, brand name Lovenox
    • Dabigatran, brand name Pradaxa
    • Fondaparinux, brand name Arixtra
    • Rivaroxaban, brand name Xarelto
    • Cilostazol, brand name Pletal
    • Edoxaban, brand name Savaysa
  • If you have a stent, do not stop taking your medicines to prevent clots without first talking to the doctor who put in the stent. For more information, ask a member of your health care team for the patient education handout on protecting your stent.
  • If you take aspirin or medicines like aspirin for arthritis pain, your doctor may have you take a different medicine in the weeks before your surgery.
  • If your surgery is canceled for any reason, call your doctor because you may need to restart the medicines you take to thin your blood or prevent clots.
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your procedure. Unless told otherwise by your doctor, you can have sips of water to take medicine.

Will I be asleep for this surgery?

You will have anesthesia medicine and will be asleep during surgery.

How long will the surgery take?

Your surgery can take 1 to 6 hours. You may be in the recovery room for 2 hours or longer after your surgery.

What happens when the surgery is over?

At the end of your surgery, the camera and robotic arms and are taken out of your body. Your surgeon will close your incision holes with stitches or surgical glue. You will go to the recovery room and stay until you are awake and stable. Your nurse will watch to make sure your blood pressure, pulse and oxygen levels are good.

Why is this type of surgery better for me?

With minimally invasive surgery you have:

  • Less blood loss during surgery
  • Smaller surgical incisions
  • Less pain after surgery
  • A shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery and return to your normal activities

How long will I stay in the hospital?

With this surgery, you will be released from the hospital within 24 hours.

Are there any risks with surgery?

There are risks for any type of surgery. Your doctor will go over the risks with you before your surgery.

What care will I need at home after this surgery?

Before leaving the hospital, you will meet with a Patient Care Resource Manager (PCRM). The PCRM will work with you and your caregiver to help with any needs you may have after you leave the hospital.

On the day of discharge, you will be given guidelines about when and how to report problems you may have after you leave the hospital. You may need to be off work for 4 to 6 weeks after this surgery.

Call your doctor with any of the following:

  • Temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or higher
  • Pain that is getting worse and not relieved by your pain medicine
  • Drainage from your incision site that smells bad
  • Redness, warmth or swelling around your incision
  • Blood in your urine
  • Pain in your lower legs (calves)
  • If one leg becomes larger or more painful than the other leg


© March 7, 2018. The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

This handout is for informational purposes only. Talk with your doctor or health care team if you have any questions about your care.

For more health information, call the Patient and Family Resource Center at 614-366-0602 or visit cancer.osu.edu/PFRC