Robotic and laparoscopic techniques allow the kidney to be removed using key-hole incisions in the abdomen. Occasionally 1 or 2 additional retraction ports may be required. Conversion to the standard open operation is easily accomplished, should technical difficulty be encountered.
Laparoscopic surgery uses hand-held key-hole instruments while the robotic surgery provides a 3-D magnified view with wristed instruments that are easier to move than standard hand-held key-hole instruments. A standard laparoscopic approach using the hand held keyhole instruments is sufficient for a radical nephrectomy. In comparison, a partial nephrectomy is much more complex and so using the robot can arguably help make the operation easier to perform.
A video on robotic surgery can be seen below. This video relates to a prostate operation. However, the robot can also be used for kidney surgery and the video demonstrates how the robot works.