BACKGROUND: Several difficulty grading systems have been developed as a useful tool for selecting patients and training surgeons in laparoscopic procedures. However, there is little information on predicting the difficulty of laparoscopic donor nephrectomy (LDN). The aim of this study was to develop a grading system to predict the difficulty of LDN. METHODS: Data of 1741 living donors, who underwent pure or hand-assisted LDN between 1994 and 2018 were analyzed. Multivariable analyses were performed to identify factors associated with prolonged operative time, defined as a difficulty index with 0 to 8. The difficulty of LDN was classified into three levels based on the difficulty index. RESULTS: Multivariable analyses identified that male (odds ratio [OR] 1.69, 95% CI 1.37-2.09, P < 0.001), BMI > 28 (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.08-1.72, P = 0.009), pure LDN (OR 1.99, 95% CI 1.53-2.60, P < 0.001), multiple renal arteries (OR 2.38, 95% CI 1.83-3.10, P < 0.001) and multiple renal veins (OR 2.18, 95% CI 1.52-3.16, P < 0.001) were independent risk factors influencing prolonged operative time. The difficulty index based on these factors was calculated and categorized into three levels: low (0-2), intermediate (3-5), and high (6-8) difficulty. Operative time was significantly longer in the high difficulty group (225 min) than in the low (169 min, P < 0.001) and intermediate difficulty group (194 min, P < 0.001). The conversion rate was higher in the high difficulty group (4.4%) than in the low (2.1%, P = 0.04) and the intermediate difficulty group (3.0%, P = 0.27). No significant difference in major complications was found between the groups. CONCLUSION: We developed a novel grading system with simple preoperative donor factors to predict the difficulty of LDN. This grading system may help surgeons in patient selection to advance their experiences and/or teach fellows from simple to difficult LDN.

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Keywords Education, Hand-assisted laparoscopy, Kidney transplantation, Laparoscopy, Learning curve, Living donors, Nephrectomy, Teaching
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Journal Surgical Endoscopy: surgical and interventional techniques
Takagi, K, Kimenai, H.J.A.N, Terkivatan, T, Tran, T.C.K, IJzermans, J.N.M, & Minnee, R.C. (2020). A novel difficulty grading system for laparoscopic living donor nephrectomy. Surgical Endoscopy: surgical and interventional techniques. doi:10.1007/s00464-020-07727-w