Urology Robotic Pyeloplasty

Robotic Pyeloplasty (UPJ Obstruction Surgery)

Your Surgical Solution for UPJ Obstruction

If you have a ureteropelvic junction (UPJ) obstruction, your doctor may recommend a type of surgery called pyeloplasty.

It’s natural to feel anxious about having surgery. But for many people, pyeloplasty is the best way to treat UPJ obstruction—and prevent long-term complications like kidney damage. You can also take comfort in knowing that Emory Healthcare offers an advanced type of pyeloplasty, robotic pyeloplasty. This less-invasive approach is easier on your body, helping you recover more quickly.

About UPJ Obstruction

The ureteropelvic junction is the spot where your kidney connects to your ureter (the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder). If this spot becomes blocked or narrowed, it’s referred to as a UPJ obstruction. A UPJ obstruction makes it harder for urine to leave your kidney. Instead of flowing down your ureter to your bladder, urine backs up inside your kidney.

If left untreated, a UPJ obstruction can cause:

  • Hydronephrosis (kidney swelling)
  • Flank pain
  • Kidney infection
  • Kidney stones
  • Loss of kidney function

Some people are born with a UPJ obstruction and require treatment during childhood. Others develop it later in life. It’s more common in men than women.

Robotic Pyeloplasty: A Minimally Invasive Option for UPJ Obstruction

Pyeloplasty surgery is the main treatment for UPJ obstruction. With this procedure, your surgeon cuts out the blocked or narrowed part of your ureter. Then, they reattach the ureter to your kidney.

In the past, surgeons could only access UPJ obstructions by making a large incision in the side of the abdomen. This is known as “open” surgery. Although open pyeloplasty is effective, the surgical wound can take a long time to heal (and leaves a several-inch-long scar).

With today’s tools and technology, surgeons can often remove UPJ obstructions without open surgery. And you’ll find these less-invasive options—including robotic pyeloplasty—at Emory Healthcare.

What Makes Robotic Pyeloplasty Different?

Robotic pyeloplasty is a type of minimally invasive surgery that uses the da Vinci robot. Compared to open pyeloplasty, it uses much smaller incisions. This means it’s less damaging to the body—so your recovery is shorter and less painful.

Robotic pyeloplasty also has several features that set it apart from other minimally invasive approaches:

  • It enhances your surgeon’s vision. During robotic pyeloplasty, a special camera provides an up-close, 3D view of your kidney and ureter.
  • It improves precision. When your surgeon moves their hand and wrist, the robotic arms perform the same movements.
  • It uses advanced robotic technology. Sophisticated robotic arms hold tiny surgical tools and a camera. Your surgeon controls these arms from a nearby computer.

Research has shown that robotic pyeloplasty is as safe and effective as open pyeloplasty. It successfully restores urine flow in 95% of patients with a UPJ obstruction.

Benefits of Robotic Pyeloplasty

A robotic approach offers several benefits compared to open surgery:

  • Less blood loss (reducing the need for a blood transfusion)
  • Less pain after surgery (reducing the need for pain medication)
  • Reduced risk of infection in your surgical wounds
  • Shorter hospital stay and faster overall recovery
  • Smaller, less noticeable scars (external and internal)

Not everyone is a candidate for robotic surgery. Your urologist will let you know if an open pyeloplasty (or a different minimally invasive approach) is a better option for you.

Why Choose Emory Healthcare for Robotic Pyeloplasty

If you’re trying to decide where to have your pyeloplasty surgery, consider Emory Healthcare. Patients routinely choose us because we offer:

  • Expert kidney disease treatment. If your condition caused frequent kidney infections—or you’ve lost kidney function—we’ll make sure you get the care you need. Emory Healthcare is home to experienced nephrologists (kidney specialists) who manage a wide range of kidney disorders.
  • Safe, skillful care. Our urologic surgeons perform many robotic pyeloplasty procedures every year. We have one of the most experienced teams in Georgia.

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