VCU Health surgeon is first on East Coast to complete robotic-assisted kidney implantation

A team of doctors leaning over a patient on an operating table.

Robotic-assisted transplantation is the latest technical milestone in kidney transplant surgery and demands a level of technical expertise that few transplant centers in the country possess.

A surgeon at the VCU Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center is the first on the East Coast to successfully complete a kidney implantation using the da Vinci Surgical System. Along with an interdisciplinary medical team, Chandra Bhati, M.D., associate professor of surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, implanted a kidney from a living organ donor to a recipient on June 19. During robotic-assisted kidney implantations, the surgeon relies on the surgical system’s robotic arms to complete the procedure and does not use hands to assist with the surgery.

“With this surgery, we are able to offer kidney transplantation to obese people who traditionally have been denied the procedure,” Bhati said, emphasizing that the main benefit of robotic-assisted kidney transplantation is the availability to people who are obese. In obese people whose body mass index is between 35 and 40, the wound infection rate with traditional kidney transplantation is between 30 and 40 percent. The increased risk of infections and other complications leads most transplant surgeons to recommend against kidney transplantation for obese patients.

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