Twenty years have passed since the first reports on robot-assisted kidney tumor surgery in 2001. However, robotic surgery has not spread to all German urologic departments yet. Hence, one has to question whether robot-assisted kidney tumor surgery can be considered a standard today. Until now, no prospective randomized controlled trials have compared robot-assisted radical nephrectomy with the open or laparoscopic approach. Regardless, laparoscopy and robotics both have proven better perioperative and comparable oncological outcomes than with open nephrectomy. In direct comparison, robot-assisted nephrectomy has no additional benefits over the laparoscopic approach and is less cost-effective. However, reports on robot-assisted level III or IV vena cava tumor thrombectomies illustrate that robotic surgery can be superior to the laparoscopic approach in highly complex interventions. Likewise, no prospective randomized controlled trials have analyzed robot-assisted partial nephrectomy yet. When conducted by experienced surgeons, robotic and laparoscopic partial nephrectomies can also have lower morbidity compared to the open approach. No consensus has been reached when directly comparing robotic and laparoscopic partial nephrectomy. However, evidence is increasing that robot-assisted partial nephrectomy can offer additional benefits, especially for the treatment of highly complex endophytic renal tumors. Thereof, head-to-head comparisons are often impacted by patient- and tumor-related factors, as well as the learning curve of the surgeon, bed-side assistant and the annual caseload of the department. Hence, one has to conclude that robot-assisted kidney tumor surgery has evolved into a standard procedure with good results. The perioperative outcomes of robot-assisted surgery are superior to the open technique at a comparable oncological follow-up. Even if robot-assisted interventions are often more expensive than laparoscopic surgery due to higher costs of acquisition, robotics have the potential to gain superior results especially in very complex tumor surgery. Due to expiring patent protections, new manufacturers and the development of new technologies, the market of robotic surgery will most likely undergo significant changes and its costs will probably decrease within the next years.
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