Objectives. Cytoreductive nephrectomy is commonly performed in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma before systemic interleukin-2 (IL-2) therapy. Open nephrectomy is associated with prolonged recovery during which metastatic disease can progress. The feasibility of laparoscopic cytoreductive surgery in these patients with large renal tumors was examined. The role of tumor morcellation in reducing the recovery period and allowing earlier treatment with IL-2 was investigated. Methods. Patients with metastatic renal cancer underwent either open nephrectomy (group 1, n = 19) or laparoscopic cytoreductive nephrectomy (n = 11; 6 with tumor morcellation [group 2], 5 with removal of the tumor through a small incision [group 3]). The three groups were compared to evaluate relative recovery, suitability for treatment with IL-2, and laparoscopic port site seeding. Results. A group of 19 patients underwent open nephrectomy (group 1). Eleven patients with a median tumor volume of 377 cm3 (median tumor diameter 9 cm) underwent laparoscopic cytoreductive nephrectomy. Six of these patients underwent tumor morcellation (group 2) and 5 underwent laparoscopic assisted nephrectomy (group 3). There was no difference in patient age, sex, sites of metastatic disease, ECOG status, size of renal tumor, or surgical complication rates among groups. Patients whose tumor was morcellated had reduced postoperative parenteral narcotic requirements and were discharged sooner than patients undergoing open cytoreductive nephrectomy. Time to treatment with IL-2 was shortest in the morcellation group (median time to treatment 37 days). No port site seeding was observed. Conclusions. Laparoscopic cytoreductive nephrectomy in patients with bulky renal disease is a safe procedure in selected patients. This pilot study demonstrated a significant association of laparoscopic tumor morcellation with less postoperative pain, faster time to discharge, and shorter time to treatment with IL-2. A randomized study is warranted to determine the role of laparoscopic cytoreductive nephrectomy with tumor morcellation.
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