Doctors at UC San Diego Medical Center performed a pioneering surgery on a cancer patient whose kidney and ureter were removed and bladder reconstructed via a small incision in the navel, it was announced today.

It was the second time the minimally invasive procedure had been performed anywhere in the world, and the first time it was done in the western United States, according to UCSD.

"Unlike traditional laparoscopy, where each instrument is placed through a separate incision, single-site laparoscopy involves placing all instruments through one small opening,'' said Dr. Ithaar H. Derweesh, a surgical oncologist at UCSD Medical Center.

"With one incision, we may significantly reduce post-operative pain and improve cosmetic outcome while accelerating the patient's recovery,'' he said.

In a traditional laparoscopic procedure, a patient would have three to five separate incisions.

Using the new surgical method, doctors were able to remove a large mass in the patient's ureter and the damaged kidney and reconstruct the bladder with one incision measuring six centimeters.

The ureter is a 12-inch-long muscular tube which transports urine from the kidney to the bladder. Cancer of the ureter, called upper-tract urothelial carcinoma, affects about 10 percent of kidney cancer patients.

Kidney cancer is the most lethal of the commonly diagnosed urologic malignancies, diagnosed in more than 50,000 Americans each year.