UIC offers robotic kidney transplantation
January 7, 2011

Surgeons at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago are the first to offer robotic kidney transplantation to morbidly obese patients and report fewer complications among this high risk population.

“We have been able to eliminate wound infections, pulmonary complications, and reduce the length of hospitalization for obese kidney transplant recipients using robotic-assisted surgery,” said Enrico Benedetti, MD, the Warren H. Cole Chair and head of surgery at UIC.

Wound infections lead to increased risk of graft loss in transplant recipients, and obesity is the main risk factor for superficial wound infection, said Benedetti. In an abstract to be presented at the American Transplant Congress in May, Benedetti and colleagues report that robotic-assisted kidney transplantation eliminates wound infection and pulmonary complications, and length of hospitalization is reduced by several days.

In Illinois, UIC is the only transplant center that will accept renal failure patients with a body mass index (BMI) above 40 who are in need of kidney transplantation, according to Benedetti. Most of these patients have no other access to kidney transplantation and experience high mortality rates while on dialysis.

UIC surgeons have performed transplants on 13 morbidly obese patients since 2009 and report that all were successful with no complications.

The team of surgeons includes Pier Cristoforo Giulianotti, MD, head of robotic surgery; José Oberholzer, MD, chief of transplantation, and Benedetti.

“For morbidly obese kidney transplant recipients, the robotic technique developed at UIC by Drs. Giulianotti and Benedetti not only offers a more cosmetic result, but is a true lifesaving procedure,” said Oberholzer, who is chief of transplantation at UIC. “Today, we can perform very safely a kidney transplant in obese patients who otherwise would be condemned to remain on dialysis with little chance for long term survival.”

For more information about UIC’s transplantation programs and robotic kidney transplantation in obese patients, call (312) 996-6771.