The kidneys are two small fist-sized organs located behind the abdomen on each side of the spine. By producing urine, kidneys remove toxic by-products and excess fluids from the body to help maintain a critical balance of salt, potassium and acid.
Diseases of the kidney are found more often in racial and ethnic minority populations in the United States than in the Caucasian population. African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Pacific Islander Americans are three times more likely to suffer from kidney failure than Americans of European descent.
One of the most common conditions affecting the kidneys is urinary obstruction. Obstruction can occur anywhere in the urinary tract and when it occurs, medical attention is required. A urinary obstruction can create serious side effects like infections and kidney stones. If left untreated, blockages can cause chronic pain and may damage the kidney over time.
Blockage of the Ureter - The condition known as blockage of the ureter (tubes that transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder) is found in adults, but more commonly in children.
Normally, a single ureter drains a single kidney but sometimes there may be two ureters draining one kidney. One ureter drains the upper part of the kidney and the second ureter drains the lower part. As long as they both enter the bladder normally, this "duplicated collecting system" is not a problem.
In rare cases, a child may be born with an ectopic (abnormally positioned) ureter. This is a ureter that fails to connect properly to the bladder and instead drains somewhere outside the bladder. In girls, the ectopic ureter usually drains into the urethra or even the vagina. In boys, it usually drains into the urethra near the prostate or into the genital duct system. The urethra is a canal that carries the urine from the bladder and in males also serves as a passageway for semen.
UPJ Obstruction - The most common cause of obstruction in the urinary tract in children is a congenital obstruction. This occurs at the point where the ureter joins the renal pelvis (called the ureteropelvic junction or UPJ). This is the area at the center of the kidney where urine collects and is funneled into the ureter. This type of obstruction occurs in roughly one in 1,500 children. These obstructions develop prenatally as the kidney is forming. Today, most cases are diagnosed on prenatal ultrasound screening.
In UPJ obstruction, the kidney produces urine at a rate that exceeds the amount of urine able to drain out of the renal pelvis into the ureter. This causes an accumulation of urine in the kidney. The accumulation, also called hydronephrosis is visible on ultrasound and often allows the doctor to predict the presence of UPJ obstruction before the baby is born.
Although less common in adults, UPJ obstruction can occur as a result of kidney stones, previous surgery or disorders that cause inflammation of the upper urinary tract.
Cancer, a second condition affecting the kidneys, can form in the small tubes inside the kidney. Those tubes located in the center of the kidney where urine collects are used to filter blood.
In the United States , 2 percent of all cancers begin in the kidney.2 Each year, kidney cancer is diagnosed in about 50,000 Americans and is the cause of death in nearly 13,000 Americans. 3 Kidney cancer is slightly more common in men and is usually diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 70 years. The most common kidney cancer is called renal cell carcinoma.
If your doctor recommends surgery for a urinary obstruction, you may be a candidate for a minimally invasive approach - da Vinci Surgery. da Vinci Surgery uses state-of-the-art technology to help your doctor perform this delicate operation. It offers several potential benefits over traditional open and laparoscopic surgery, including:
da Vinci Surgery incorporates the best techniques of open and laparoscopic surgery and applies them to a robotic-assisted, minimally invasive approach for treatment of non-cancerous kidney disorders like ureteral blockage.
As with any surgery, these benefits cannot be guaranteed since surgery is specific to each patient, condition and procedure.
If you are a candidate for kidney surgery, talk to a urologist who performs da Vinci Surgery. To find a da Vinci urologic surgeon, use our surgeon locator.
While clinical studies support the effectiveness of the da Vinci Surgical System when used in minimally invasive surgery, individual results may vary. There are no guarantees of outcome. All surgeries involve the risk of major complications. Before you decide on surgery, discuss treatment options with your doctor. Understanding the risks of each treatment can help you make the best decision for your individual situation. Surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System may not be appropriate for every individual; it may not be applicable to your condition. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits. Only your doctor can determine whether da Vinci Surgery is appropriate for your situation. The clinical information and opinions, including any inaccuracies expressed in this material by patients or doctors about da Vinci Surgery, are not necessarily those of Intuitive Surgical, Inc. and should not be considered as substitute for medical advice provided by your doctor. © 2010 Intuitive Surgical. All rights reserved.
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