Hold the ice: study shows no benefit during kidney cancer surgery

May 19, 2021

Renal hypothermiaA clinical trial shows that contrary to popular belief, renal hypothermia (shown above) doesn’t actually improve kidney function after kidney cancer surgery. For decades, kidney cancer surgery around the world has often involved clamping the blood vessels and then packing the kidney in ice for a short time before removing the tumours. The theory was that this “renal hypothermia” would slow down metabolism, prevent toxic molecules from building up, and allow better recovery after surgery.

But a clinical trial led by Drs. Rodney Breau, Ilias Cagiannos and Dean Fergusson – the first of its kind in the world – shows that renal hypothermia doesn’t actually help. The trial involved 184 patients at six hospitals across Canada and used an innovative approach to randomize participants right in the operating room. No significant differences were observed in kidney function, surgical complications or quality of life, as detailed in The Journal of Urology.

“This study is changing practice around the world,” said Dr. Breau. “Previously, we may have avoided minimally invasive or robotic surgery for kidney cancer because it couldn’t be done on ice, but now that we know the ice isn’t important, it opens up new treatment options for many patients.”

Authors: Breau RH, Fergusson DA, Knoll G, McAlpine K, Morash C, Cnossen S, Lavallée LT, Mallick R, Finelli A, Jewett MAS, Leibovich BC, Cook JA, Kapoor A, Pouliot F, Izawa J, Rendon R, Cagiannos I.

Core resources: Ottawa Methods Centre

Funding: Canadian Institutes of Health Research. All research at The Ottawa Hospital is enabled by The Ottawa Hospital Foundation

The Ottawa Hospital is a leading academic health, research and learning hospital proudly affiliated with the University of Ottawa. 

Media Contact 
Jenn Ganton