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Clin Radiol. 1993 Jan;47(1):32-5.

The role of percutaneous nephrostomy in malignant urinary tract obstruction.

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  • 1Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Royal Marsden Hospital, London.


Percutaneous nephrostomy is a well established technique for rapid relief of ureteric obstruction and improvement of renal function. However, its role in the management of renal failure resulting from advanced abdominopelvic malignancy is controversial and there are no clear guidelines to predict which patients benefit from such intervention both in terms of survival time and quality of life. To establish a protocol for selection of patients with abdominopelvic malignancy most likely to benefit from nephrostomy for renal obstruction, the medical records of 50 consecutive patients undergoing this procedure at the Royal Marsden Hospital were reviewed. The patients were divided into four groups: Group I, renal obstruction caused by a nonmalignant complication as a result of previous surgery or radiotherapy (n = 8); Group II, renal obstruction due to untreated primary malignancy (n = 16); Group III, renal obstruction from relapsed disease with a viable treatment option (n = 8); and Group IV, relapsed disease with no conventional treatment option (n = 18). There was significant benefit from percutaneous nephrostomy in Groups I-III. The overall median survival time of Group IV patients was extremely poor: 38 days (range 6-143 days) with no long-term survivors. The results suggest that strict selection criteria should be applied to patients with a history of abdominopelvic malignancy before proceeding to percutaneous nephrostomy. No worthwhile benefit is obtained if nephrostomy is used as a palliative measure in the absence of definitive treatment.

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