Differential Adoption of Laparoscopy by Treatment Indication

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The diffusion of laparoscopic renal surgery has been gradual. While surgery for benign and malignant kidney disease is usually within the urological domain, donor nephrectomy is multidisciplinary. Therefore, we compared the use of laparoscopy by procedure indication (kidney donor, and benign and malignant kidney disease) to examine potential specialty specific associations with the slow uptake of this technology.

Materials and Methods

Data on 53,461 patients undergoing nephrectomy for all indications between 1998 and 2003 were abstracted from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample using International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification procedure and diagnostic codes. Generalized estimating equations were fitted to measure the association between laparoscopy use and the procedure indication (kidney donor, benign kidney disease and kidney cancer).


The use of laparoscopy varied by treatment indication. In 2003, 33% of kidney donors underwent a laparoscopic approach compared to 22% and 16% of patients with benign and malignant kidney disease, respectively (p <0.0001). After adjusting for patient and hospital differences patients with benign (adjusted OR 0.71, 95% CI 0.58–0.94) and malignant (adjusted OR 0.51, 95% CI 0.35–0.74) kidney disease were significantly less likely to undergo laparoscopic nephrectomy than kidney donors.


These data highlight that the use of laparoscopic renal surgery varies by procedure indication with slower adoption of laparoscopy for malignant or benign indications than for donor nephrectomy. This variation was not readily explained by differences in measurable patient and hospital factors. Further characterization of provider and nonclinical characteristics may provide additional insight into differences in the adoption of this technology, which appears to be a specialty specific phenomenon.

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