Remove a kidney through the vagina? Is natural orifice surgery the future?

For the first time, a living donor had her kidney removed through her vagina.

She was left with three small scars, with one hidden in her navel. There’s hope that the procedure, which reduces recovery time and is generally more tolerable than the traditional laparoscopic method, can encourage more people to donate.

Gynecologist Amy Tuteur takes a closer look at the procedure, and likens it to an evolutionary step, with “natural orifice surgery [a] logical extension of laparoscopy.”

What are some of the concerns? For one, there’s the possibility of contamination as the kidney is exposed to the bacteria contained in the vagina. Doctors tried to eliminate this risk by “enclos[ing] the kidney in a sterile plastic bag tied at the top. When the kidney is released from its attachments, it is removed through the vagina by simply pulling out the sterile bag, kidney enclosed.”


It’s quite fascinating, and I encourage you to read Dr. Tuteur’s detailed take on the case.

Despite the technical challenges, and the fact there are limitations on the technique, a natural orifice approach shrinks scars, and reduces the pain and recovery time that accompanies a major operation.

It very well may be the future of surgery.

General surgeon Jeffrey Parks as a much more tempered opinion on the case.