Objectives: The majority of localized renal cancers are currently managed by laparoscopic radical nephrectomy, with or without the hand-assist device. In this prospective randomized study, we evaluated the patient outcomes with a standard laparoscopic radical nephrectomy (LRN) versus a hand-assisted laparoscopic radical nephrectomy (HALN). Methods: Over a 3-year period, we randomly assigned 21 patients with a localized renal mass of 10 cm or larger to a LRN group with intact specimen extraction or a HALN. The trocar size and sites, the position of the hand-assist device, and the specimen extraction sites were standardized. Patient characteristics, surgical complications, postoperative pain, and convalescence were evaluated. Results: Twelve patients underwent LRN and 9 patients underwent HALN. Both groups had similar body mass indices (BMI), mean tumor diameter (LRN, 5.8 cm; HALN, 5.6 cm), and American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) scores. The HALN cohort was significantly older (mean age = 68 years) than the LRN cohort (mean age = 54 years) (P = 0.019). Perioperatively, both groups had similar mean times to oral intake and discharge (LRN 2.6 days and HALN 3 days, P = 0.6). Although both groups reported similar postoperative pain scale scores on day 1, at 1 and 3 months. Two patients in each group had complications (LRN 16% and HALN 22%). Conclusions: In comparing HALN and LRN, there was no difference in the majority of operative and postoperative parameters, including hospital stay and postoperative pain. However, LRN patients had a significantly shorter convalescence with quicker return to normal activities and work than the HALN group. Part of the delay in long-term convalescence parameters may be due to the older patients in the HALN cohort.
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