Journal Article
Multicenter Study
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Does the presence of hydronephrosis on preoperative axial CT imaging predict worse outcomes for patients undergoing nephroureterectomy for upper-tract urothelial carcinoma?

OBJECTIVES: Hydronephrosis at the time of diagnosis of bladder cancer is associated with advanced disease and is a predictor of poorer outcomes. There is, however, limited information addressing whether a similar relationship exists for upper-tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC). We investigate the prognostic impact of hydronephrosis on preoperative axial imaging on clinical outcomes after radical nephroureterectomy.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The records for 106 patients with UTUC who underwent radical nephroureterectomy at 2 medical centers were reviewed. Preoperative computed tomography (CT) images were evaluated for ipsilateral hydronephrosis by radiologists blinded to clinical outcomes. Association of hydronephrosis with pathologic features and oncologic outcomes after surgery was assessed.

RESULTS: Sixty-seven men and 39 women with a median age of 69 years (range, 36 to 90) were evaluated. One-third of these patients had muscle invasive disease or greater (≥T2), 44% had high grade tumors, and 3% had lymph node (LN) metastases. At a median follow-up of 47 months (range, 1 to 164), 43% of patients experienced disease recurrence, 18% developed metastasis, and 12% died of their cancer. Thirty-nine patients (37%) had hydronephrosis on preoperative axial imaging; 35% of these patients had ureteral tumors, and 27% had multifocal disease. The presence of hydronephrosis was associated with advanced pathologic stage (P = 0.03) and disease in the ureter (vs. renal pelvis) (P = 0.007). Hydronephrosis was a predictor of non-organ confined disease on final pathology (hazard ratio [HR] 3.7, P = 0.01). On preoperative multivariable analysis controlling for age, gender, tumor location, ureteroscopic biopsy grade, and urinary cytology, hydronephrosis was independently associated with cancer metastasis (HR 8.2, P = 0.02) and cancer-specific death (HR 12.1, P = 0.03).

CONCLUSIONS: Preoperative hydronephrosis on axial imaging is associated with features of aggressive disease and predicts advanced pathologic stage for UTUC. Hydronephrosis can be a valuable prognostic tool for preoperative planning and counseling regarding disease outcomes.

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