Mayo surgeons perform first robotic-assisted kidney transplant in Minnesota

Published 4:51 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2023

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Mayo Clinic surgeons successfully performed Minnesota’s first robotic-assisted kidney transplant earlier this month. This minimally invasive procedure may be beneficial for patients with a higher body mass index and may reduce the risk of incisional complications, such as hernia or infection.

Mayo Clinic’s first robotic-assisted kidney transplant was successfully performed on Oct. 4 on a woman in her 60s who received a kidney from her daughter.

“Mayo Clinic has been a leader in the field of kidney transplants for six decades. We are proud to continue that tradition by completing the first robotic-assisted kidney transplant in Minnesota,” says Timucin Taner, M.D., Ph.D., division chair of Transplant Surgery at Mayo Clinic. Taner and Patrick Dean, M.D., surgical director of Mayo Clinic’s Kidney Transplant Program in Minnesota, performed the robotic-assisted surgery.

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For patients with kidney failure, kidney transplant remains the best treatment available. Most kidney transplants are done via open surgery. The surgeon makes an incision four to eight inches long on the right or left side of the lower abdomen to transplant the donated kidney. For a robotic-assisted kidney transplant, the surgeon makes a roughly two-inch incision around the belly button and a smaller incision to insert the robotic instruments. The surgeon sits at a console that controls the surgical robot.

“A robotic-assisted kidney transplant requires a smaller incision. It lowers the risk that patients will experience complications, such as an infection or hernia,” Dean said. “Patients may also have less discomfort and a speedier recovery, potentially meaning less time in the hospital after surgery.”

For most patients, the traditional kidney surgery method remains the best option. It is safe and successful.

“Robotic-assisted kidney transplant will not replace open kidney transplantation entirely,” Dr. Taner says. “It will, however, offer another option for those who may benefit from an alternative incision site — especially those with higher body mass indexes, previous hernias or prior abdominal surgeries.”

Mayo Clinic is the largest integrated transplant center in the U.S. Mayo Clinic Transplant Center in Minnesota performed 311 kidney transplants in 2022 — more than any other transplant center in the state.