Nephron-sparing surgery for the management of upper tract urothelial carcinoma: an outline of surgical technique and review of outcomes

Ruchira Nandurkar, Marnique Basto, Shomik Sengupta


Upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC) often occurs in elderly patients with multiple co-morbidities including renal impairment. As such, nephron sparing surgery (NSS) often needs to be considered. This article reviews the available NSS techniques for UTUC, including ureteroscopy, percutaneous approaches and segmental ureterectomy. PubMed and OvidMEDLINE reviews of available case series from the last 10 years demonstrated that recurrence was highly variable between studies and occurred in 19–90.5% of ureteroscopic cases, 29–98% of percutaneous resections and in 10.2–31.4% of patients who underwent segmental ureterectomy. The small number of included studies and variable follow up periods made comparison between techniques difficult. NSS is a necessary alternative for patients with significant comorbidities or renal impairment who cannot undergo radical nephro-ureterectomy. However, there is significant variation in oncological outcomes, with an increased risk of progression or death from cancer—salvage by radical surgery may sometimes be required.