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Eur Urol. 2005 Jan;47(1):64-71.

Repeat retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy in advanced testicular cancer.

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Division of Oncological Urology, Department of Urology, University of Cologne, Joseph-Stelzmann-Str. 9, 50931 Cologne, Germany.



Repeat retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND) for the treatment of metastatic testicular cancer is an uncommonly performed procedure. We evaluated the location, pathohistological results, postoperative complications and therapeutic outcome in 17 patients being referred for repeat RPLND after failure of the primary retroperitoneal approach.


18 patients underwent repeat RPLND after failed primary RPLND or residual tumour resection. We retrospectively analyzed preoperative patient characteristics, operative and pathohistological data from primary and repeat RPLND, morbidity and oncological outcome after surgery.


All patients had nonseminomatous primaries with metastatic retroperitoneal lymph nodes; 4 and 14 patients had undergone primary RPLND and residual tumor resection (RTR), respectively, for metastatic testicular cancer. Prior to repeat RPLND all patients had undergone 4 cycles of salvage chemotherapy for locoregional recurrences only with negative tumour markers at time of surgery. All patients demonstrated residual masses requiring repeat RPLND. Retroperitoneal recurrences were located at multiple sites: retrocaval area with infiltration of the vena cava, interaortocaval and paraaortic region, retrocrural space, suprahilar region, outfield metastases in the iliac region. Two cases required resection of the vena cava due to infiltration, in one case an aortic graft and an iliac graft was necessary due to tumour infiltration of the adventitial layer of the vessels; nephrectomy and resection of the sigmoid was required in another 2 patients. The most significant complication was chylous ascites 1 and prolonged paralytic ileus in 1 patient. Pathohistological examination of the resected specimen revealed viable germ cell tumour elements in 4 patients (22.2%), necrosis/fibrosis in 8 patients (44.4%) and mature teratoma in 6 patients (33.3%). At a mean follow-up of 22 (1-45) months, the disease specific survival rate was 89% with significant differences between patients with necrosis (100%), mature teratoma (85%) and viable cancer (50%).


Recurrences after RPLND usually reflect inadequate primary surgery especially in the retrocaval and suprahilar region. Repeat RPLND is safe and effective in the majority of patients; however, it requires careful preoperative planning with regard to potential involvement of adjacent vascular and visceral structures making close interdisciplinary collaboration necessary in many cases. Repeat RPLND is a mandatory surgery to be performed at centres of expertise.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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