Purpose: We present the incidence of complications and conversions during laparoscopic nephrectomy performed for various indications and discuss methods to help prevent future complications. Materials and Methods: From June 1999 to February 2003 at our institution 285 laparoscopic nephrectomy cases were performed, consisting of 113 radical nephrectomies, 101 donor nephrectomies, 27 simple nephrectomies, 23 partial nephrectomies and 21 nephroureterectomies. We reviewed the data base of patients who underwent laparoscopic nephrectomy to examine complications and analyze factors related to conversion to an open surgical procedure. Results: Major complications occurred in 16 patients (5.6%). Major complications were surgical in 12 patients and medical in 4. Of the major surgical complications 3, 6, 1, 1 and 1 occurred during laparoscopic radical nephrectomy, donor nephrectomy, nephroureterectomy, simple nephrectomy and partial nephrectomy, respectively. The predominant major surgical complication was bleeding requiring conversion to an open surgical procedure. The overall conversion rate was 4% (12 patients), consisting of 6 emergency and 6 elective conversions. The remaining 27 patients experienced minor surgical or postoperative medical problems, such as urinary retention or wound infection. The mortality rate in our series was 0%. Conclusions: Laparoscopic renal surgery is becoming a routine procedure in the armamentarium of many urologists. Complications that are unique to laparoscopy exist but they should decrease with time with repetition and experience. We have learned many different precautions and procedures that should help decrease the risk of future complications associated with laparoscopic renal surgery.
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