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Surveillance of upper urinary tract transitional cell carcinoma: the role of ureteroscopy, retrograde pyelography, cytology and urinalysis.

Journal of Urology 2000 December
PURPOSE: A select group of patients with upper tract transitional cell carcinoma are treated with ureteroscopic resection. We determine the validity and accuracy of urinalysis, bladder cytology, upper tract biopsy/cytology and retrograde pyelography for the detection of recurrent upper tract transitional cell carcinoma compared to endoscopic findings.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Patients with ureteroscopically treated upper tract transitional cell carcinoma were followed with surveillance every 3 to 6 months. Surveillance included urinalysis with dipstick and microscopic examination, bladder cytology, retrograde pyelography read by a urologist and radiologist, and ureteropyeloscopy with cytology and biopsy of suspicious areas. Not all results were available for all surveillance procedures. Measures of sensitivity and specificity for the aforementioned surveillance procedures were determined relative to endoscopic findings that were defined as the standard. Confidence intervals were also estimated. Initially, a generalized estimation equation approach was used to take into account the clustering of repeated testing within patients. The accuracy of each procedure was also calculated.

RESULTS: There were 23 patients with previously resected low grade upper tract transitional cell carcinoma who underwent a total of 88 surveillances in 30 months. A total of 56 of 88 (64%) recurrences were detected ureteroscopically, including 11 (12%) associated bladder recurrences. In patients who did not have bladder recurrences urinalysis had a sensitivity of 37.5% but specificity was 85%, while bladder cytology had a sensitivity of 50% and specificity was 100%, and retrograde pyelography read in the endoscopy room revealed a sensitivity of 71.7% and specificity of 84.7%. Ureteroscopic biopsy/cytology had a sensitivity and specificity of 93.4% and 65.2%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that compared to ureteroscopy, urinalysis, bladder cytology, retrograde pyelography and ureteroscopic cytology/biopsy are less valid and accurate in detecting upper tract transitional cell carcinoma recurrences. Based on our data we recommend ureteroscopic evaluation as an essential procedure for the surveillance of patients treated endoscopically for upper tract transitional cell carcinoma.

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