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Radiographics. 2005 Nov-Dec;25(6):1609-27.

Transitional cell carcinoma of the upper urinary tract: spectrum of imaging findings.

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Department of Radiology, Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Tallaght, Dublin 24, Ireland.


Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) accounts for up to 10% of neoplasms of the upper urinary tract and usually manifests as hematuria. Imaging plays an important role in assessment of upper tract disease, unlike in bladder TCC, diagnosis of which is usually made at cystoscopy. Traditional imaging modalities, such as excretory urography, retrograde pyelography, and ultrasonography, still play pivotal roles in diagnosis of upper tract TCC, in combination with endourologic techniques. The multicentric nature of TCC makes assessment of the entire urothelium essential before treatment. The advent of minimally invasive surgery, which allows renal preservation in selected patients, makes accurate tumor staging mandatory to determine the appropriate therapy; staging is usually performed with computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. Vigilant urologic and radiologic follow-up is warranted to assess for metachronous lesions and recurrence. The emerging technique of CT urography allows detection of urinary tract tumors and calculi, assessment of perirenal tissues, and staging of lesions; it may offer the opportunity for one-stop evaluation in the initial assessment of hematuria and in follow-up of TCC. Similar MR imaging protocols can be used in patients who are not candidates for CT urography, although detection of urinary tract calcifications may be suboptimal.

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