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Urology. 2003 Dec;62(6):1007-11.

Practice patterns among urologic surgeons treating localized renal cell carcinoma in the laparoscopic age: technology versus oncology.

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Department of Urology, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York 10021, USA.



To evaluate the effect of laparoscopy on practice patterns at a single institution in the treatment of renal cell carcinoma. Many now regard laparoscopic radical nephrectomy (LRN) as a standard of care in the management of localized renal cell carcinoma. As laparoscopy becomes more prevalent in the urologic community, practice patterns are changing.


We analyzed the renal cancer surgical database at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University from 1997 to 2002. We compared three groups, including open radical nephrectomy (ORN), open partial nephrectomy (OPN), and LRN.


A total of 222 consecutive renal surgeries done for presumed malignancy were performed from 1997 to 2002. A total of 194 were assessable. Of these, 63 were OPNs, 51 were ORNs, and 80 were LRNs. When analyzed over time, during the latter half of 2000, 89% of all LRNs were performed on tumors less than 4 cm in size. More recently, in 2002, only 42% of LRNs were performed for tumors 4 cm or less in size. From 1997 to 2000, 30% of all OPNs were done on tumors greater than 4 cm compared with 28% from 2000 to 2002. Of 30 OPNs performed from 1997 to 2000, 21 (70%) were performed on small (4 cm or less) tumors compared with 24 (73%) of 33 from 2000 to 2002.


From 2000 to 2002, the percentage of tumors less than 4 cm that were treated with LRN has increased with time. In the ORN cohort, the percentage of nephrectomies performed on small tumors (less than 4 cm) has decreased with time, and the trends in the OPN group have remained relatively stable. As an institution becomes more comfortable with laparoscopic techniques, technological concerns are likely to play less of a role in determining treatment algorithms among treating urologists.

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