Comparison between extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy and semirigid ureterorenoscope with holmium:YAG laser lithotripsy for treating large proximal ureteral stones

Ching-Fang Wu, Jia-Jen Shee, Wei-Yu Lin, Chun-Liang Lin, Chih-Shou Chen
Journal of Urology 2004, 172 (5 Pt 1): 1899-902

PURPOSE: Management of large impacted upper ureteral calculi remains challenging for urologists. These calculi are frequently associated with obstructive uropathy and deteriorated renal function. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) is the least invasive treatment but its success rate is decreased for large impacted upper ureteral calculi. According to the American Urological Association guidelines on ureteral stones published in 1997, the appropriateness of ureteroscopy decreases when stone size exceeds 1 cm. However, the application of advanced ureteroscopy and techniques has increased the success rate of treating proximal ureter calculi. In this study we compared the safety and efficacy of ureterorenoscopic holmium:YAG laser lithotripsy (URSL) with SWL for large impacted proximal ureteral stones.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study evaluated 82 patients with large impacted upper ureteral stones. Two patients were excluded from study owing to conversion to open surgery. SWL and URSL were performed in 41 and 39 patients, respectively. Those in the SWL group were treated on an outpatient basis with Medispec Econolith 2000 (Medispec, Germantown, Maryland) under intravenous sedation. The URSL was performed with a 6/7.5Fr semirigid tapered ureterorenoscope and holmium:YAG laser with the patient under spinal anesthesia on an inpatient basis. Successful outcome was defined as the patient being stone-free on radiography 1 month after treatment. Stone size, success rate, postoperative complications and cost were analyzed in each group.

RESULTS: A total of 80 patients were enrolled in this study. Hematuria and flank pain were the most common complaints in each group. Mean stone size +/- SD was 1.28 +/- 0.04 cm in the SWL group and 1.51 +/- 0.05 cm in URSL group (p = 0.0009). Accessibility of the semirigid ureterorenoscope for impacted upper ureteral stones was 95.1% (39 of 41) and the stone-free rate achieved after 1 sitting was 92% (36 of 39). The initial stone-free rate of in situ SWL was 61% (25 of 41). Notably, the initial stone-free rate in the URSL group was better than that of the SWL group (p = 0.003). The efficiency quotient was 0.53 for URSL and 0.59 for SWL. The average cost in the URSL group appears to be lower than in the SWL group. Both groups were free of major complications.

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated that URSL achieved excellent results for upper ureteral calculi greater than 1 cm. Thus, this procedure should be considered first line therapy for large proximal ureteral stones.

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