The University of Maryland's Division of Urology has physicians with advanced surgical skills who have access to technology available at only a handful of medical centers in the country. Because of this, they are able to offer state-of-the-art care for patients in need of traditional and advanced surgical procedures for all conditions of the urinary tract.
“Whether the diagnosis is erectile dysfunction, urinating difficulties, kidney stones or possible cancer, patients should not be afraid to ask questions. Patients should do research, know their options and talk to their physician about the risks and benefits before making a surgical decision,” explains Michael Phelan, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of Urological Laparoscopy and Minimally Invasive Surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Many patients can now benefit from minimally invasive surgery, in which surgical tools and a laparoscope (a fiber optic instrument) are passed through small incisions. The laparoscope transmits images of the surgical site to a video monitor, helping guide surgeons while operating. Minimally invasive surgery results in less scarring and a faster recovery. University of Maryland urologists, like Dr. Phelan, routinely perform laparscopic surgery to treat a variety of urology problems including kidney and adrenal tumors.
Dr. Phelan also offers another, newer minimally invasive option for kidney cancer—cryosurgery. Cryosurgery is currently performed for kidney cancer at only a few of the nation’s medical centers. It is an old technique, being revisited for treatment of small renal cancers. Using a small probe, surgeons freeze the cancer cells to less than -70° Celsius thereby killing the cancer cells. The approach is an option for people with small tumors, or for those who would require life-long dialysis if a partial or complete kidney removal was performed.
The training and skill of the surgeon still plays a major role in a good surgical outcome. According to Dr. Phelan, “A diagnosis of kidney or adrenal mass is no longer a sentence for a large incision. Advances in technology have allowed us to offer less invasive alternatives. Patients who are prepared to ask the right questions have the best chance of finding a surgeon they feel most comfortable with.”