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This article has been peer reviewed and is published in Journal of Endourology 2009 Mar;23(3):341-6. The published version is available at DOI: 10.1089/end.2008.0251. ©Mary Ann Liebert, Inc


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: For many years, the gold standard in upper urinary tract transitional-cell carcinoma (UT-TCC) management has been nephroureterectomy with excision of the bladder cuff. Advances in endourologic instrumentation have allowed urologists to manage this malignancy. The feasibility and success of conservative measures for UT-TCC have been widely published, but there has not been an objective cost analysis performed to date. Our goal was to examine the direct costs of renal-sparing conservative measures v nephroureterectomy and subsequent chronic kidney disease (CKD) or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Secondary analysis includes a discussion of survival and quality-of-life issues for both treatment cohorts.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Retrospective review of a cohort of patients treated at our institution with renal-sparing ureteroscopic management of UT-TCC who were followed for a minimum of 2 years. The costs per case were based on equipment, anesthesia, surgeon fees, pathologic evaluation fees, and hospital stay. ESRD and CKD costs were estimated based on published reports.

RESULTS: From 1996 to 2006, 254 patients were evaluated and treated for UT-TCC at our institution. A cohort of 57 patients was examined who had a minimum follow-up period of 2 years. Renal preservation in our series approached 81%, with cancer-specific survival of 94.7%. Assuming a worst-case scenario of a solitary kidney with recurrences at each follow-up for 5 years v nephroureterectomy and dialysis for the same period, an estimated $252,272 U.S. dollars would be saved. This savings would cover the expenses of five cadaveric renal transplantations.

CONCLUSIONS: Conservative endoscopic management of UT-TCC in our experience should be the gold standard management for low-grade and superficial-stage disease. From a cost perspective, renal-sparing UT-TCC management is effective in reducing ESRD health care expenses.

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