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Eur Urol. 2004 Dec;46(6):690-7.

Laparoscopic nephroureterectomy for upper urinary tract transitional cell carcinoma: is it better than open surgery?

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  • 1Department of Urology, SLK Kliniken Heilbronn, Am Gesundbrunnen 20, D-74078 Heilbronn, Germany.



In 1991, laparoscopic nephroureterectomy has been introduced as a treatment option for upper tract transitional cell carcinoma. Based on the review of the current literature and personal experience we want to analyze the actual results of this technique in comparison to open surgery.


We performed a MEDLINE/PubMed search and reviewed the literature on laparoscopic and open nephroureterectomy between 1991 and 2004 (n = 1365 patients) including the results of 45 patients who underwent either laparoscopic (n = 23) or open nephroureterectomy (n = 21) during the same period of time at the Klinikum Heilbronn. Demographic, perioperative and follow-up data were compared.


The analysis revealed a slightly longer OR-time (276.6 vs. 220.1 min), and significantly lower blood loss (240.9 vs. 462.9 ml) in the laparoscopic series. No differences of minor (12.9 vs. 14.1%) or major complication rate (5.6 vs. 8.3%) were observed. All nine comparative studies revealed a significant dose reduction of the morphine-equivalents after laparoscopy. In all ten comparative series the hospital stay was shorter after laparoscopy, but only in 6 series the difference was statistically significant. The frequency of bladder recurrence (24.0 vs. 24.7%), local recurrence (4.4 vs. 6.3%), and distant metastases (15.5% vs. 15.2) did not differ significantly in both groups. The actual disease-free two-year survival rates (75.2 vs. 76.2%) were similar. The five-year survival rates averaged 81.2% in the three laparoscopic (n = 113 pat.) and 61% in the ten open series (n = 681 pat.) Six port site metastases were reported in 377 (1.6%) analyzed patients occurring 3 to 12 months following laparoscopy.


Open radical nephroureterectomy still represents the golden standard for the management of upper tract transitional cell carcinoma, however, laparoscopic radical nephroureterectomy offers the advantages of minimally invasive surgery without deteriorating the oncological outcome. In case of advanced tumors (pT3,N+) open surgery is still recommended.

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