Tag Archive for: ketamine


Highlights from the Urological Association of Asia Annual Congress 2017

Having trained and worked in London throughout my urology career, I have recently relocated and joined the exciting, dynamic urology community of my birthplace, Hong Kong. Coincidentally, it so happens to be this year’s host of the Urological Association of Asia (UAA) annual congress #UAA2017.


The beautiful and mesmerising night view of the Victoria Harbour of Hong Kong.

Established in 1990 in Fukuoka, Japan, the #UAA currently has 25 urological associations as members or affiliated members across Asia and Australasia with and over 25,000 members. This was my attendance at the #UAA and it most certainly did not disappoint. What made the conference even more special was the chance to meet up with my good friend and ex-colleague from Guy’s Hospital @nairajesh – both of us were honoured to speak at the meeting. With over 1600 delegates attending the meeting and over 500 scientific abstracts presented, the congress served as an excellent platform for knowledge exchange and the establishment of professional links with many urological greats in Asia and beyond.


Pre #UAA2017 Congress Activities

#UAA2017 started off with a pre-congress ‘wet-lab’ 3D laparoscopic skills and endourology workshop hosted by @HKUniversity and the European School of Urology @UrowebESU. Both transperitoneal laparoscopic and retroperitoneoscopic techniques were taught by eminent leaders and pioneers in minimally invasive urological surgery by faculties from Europe, India and China, including Professor Jens Rassweiller, Professor Christian Schwentner (@Schwenti1977), Dr Domenico Veneziano (@d_veneziano), Professor Janak Desai (@drjanajddesai), and Professor Zhang Shudong.


Joint UAA-ESU 3D laparoscopic and endourological skills course faculties. Left to right: Dr Ada Ng (Hong Kong), Dr Wayne Lam @WayneLam_Urol (Hong Kong), Professor Janek Desai @drjanajddesai (India), Professor Jens Rassweiller (Germany), Professor MK Yiu (Hong Kong), Dr James Tsu (Hong Kong), Dr WK Ma (Hong Kong).



Joint UAA-ESU 3D Laparoscopic skills workshop – Above: Professor Rassweiller (Germany) supervising overseas delegates. Below: Professor MK Yiu (Hong Kong) demonstrating techniques of laparoscopic suturing to delegates from China.

The renal cell carcinoma #RCC masterclass was a particular highlight. A whole day of excellent lectures and speakers entertained both local and international delegates, and was particularly popular with trainees. There were talks examining the role of percutaneous biopsy of renal tumours presented by Alessandro Volpe (@foxal72), an update of current trends and techniques in robotic and laparoscopic partial nephrectomy by Dr. Joseph Wong (Hong Kong) and Dr. Shuo Wang (China) and a fantastic discussion examining the role of non-clamping partial nephrectomy by Dr. Ringo Chu (Hong Kong). The afternoon session kicked off with @nairajesh giving a comprehensive review on the surgical management of advanced #RCC. Professor Axel Bex (Netherlands) continued with an examination of neoadjuvant and adjuvant systemic therapy in #RCC and the emerging role of #immunotherapy. Professor Alessandro Volpe (@foxal72) discussed the current #EAU guidelines and recent updates.


Masterclass in #RCC: @foxal72 , @nairajesh , Professor Axel Bex (Netherlands), with moderators Dr Ringo Chu (Hong Kong) and Dr Joseph Wong (Hong Kong).


Day 1 of #UAA2017

The plenary session on day 1 of #UAA started off with Professor Zengnan Mo from China on the epidemiology of prostate cancer in Asia. There is, not surprisingly, a very diverse range of incidence of #prostatecancer rate across the largest continent in the world, inevitably effected by the presence of #PSA screening in countries such as Japan and Korea, ethnicity (East Asia vs Middle East), genetics (Israeli Jewish population), and their local healthcare system and policies. Arguably the currently available #prostatecancer screening trials may not be applicable to the Asian populations, and various on-going studies in Japan and China are going to address these issues. One in particular is an ongoing population-based study funded by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, in which over 50,000 men will be recruited into the screening, early detection, localised, and advanced #prostatecancer cohorts and to be followed up with time. Obviously, we will not expect to see the results of the trial anytime soon, but will surely answers to address the behaviour of prostate cancer in the Asian population in the future.

Professor Sam Cheng (@UroCancerMD) from Vanderbilt University then gave a comprehensive review on the current status of #cystectomy. Robotic cystectomy appears to have the benefit of reduced blood loss and length of stay. However, long-term oncological outcome still remains uncertain, and certainly, patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) is lacking.



Day 2 of #UAA2017

After early showers on day 2 of UAA, Hong Kong was heating up with temperatures over 33 degrees Celsius. So were the discussions in the plenary session in the morning. Professor Freddie Hamdy (@Freddie_Hamdy) gave the #EAU lecture on #activesurveillance for #prostatecancer. This was followed on nicely with the current status of #prostatecancer management in Hong Kong by Dr. Yau-Tung Chan and Dr. Gerhardt Attard (UK) enlightened the audience with a concise update in the management of hormone sensitive prostate cancer, an area where the landscape is ever-changing.

The advanced oncology session started off with a heated debate in the use of mass clamping (Dr Ringo Chu, Hong Kong) versus selective artery clamping in partial nephrectomy (Dr Tae-Gyun Kwon, Korea). Both speakers presented with very valid arguments and perhaps it was fair to say it ended up with all square. Professor Krishna Sethia (UK) gave a fascinating summary of the current local management of #penilecancer at centralised penile cancer centres in the UK, after which I was honoured to provide an update on current nodal management in #penilecancer from my recent experience at St George’s University Hospitals @StGeorgesTrust in the UK. It was exciting to see the centralisation of services in #penilecancer in the UK has given great opportunities to understand and optimise management of patients with such rare disease.

The Semi-live sessions entertained the audience on both days of the conference. Excellent videos were presented throughout. Professor Koon Rha of Yonsei University in South Korea gave a fantastic semi-live talk on his tricks and techniques of Retzius-space sparing Robot-assisted radical prostatectomy. Perhaps what’s even more exciting to know is that a Korean company has produced a new robot for surgery which has been well tested by Professor Rha’s group, which has just literally been licenced and approved in Korea just days before #UAA2017. Will this finally drive the cost of robotic surgery down? Time will tell.


Associate Professor Declan Murphy (@declanmurphy) and Mr. Rajesh Nair (@nairajesh) both contributed with a beautiful video showcasing techniques in total pelvic exenteration and long-term outcomes of urinary diversion and reconstruction in this cohort of patients.

The Gala dinner in the evening was full of fun and entertainment. Following the performance of a soprano quartet formed by local Hong Kong urologists (who sang the classic My Way with a twist on prostate examination!), the rock stars of urology – Professor Jens Rassweiller, Dr Samuel Yee from Hong Kong, and Dr Domenico Veneziano (@d_veneziano) provided an energetic and electrifying live performance of some rock classics!


Urology Rock N’ Roll! Left to right: Professor Jens Rassweiller (Germany), Dr Domenico Veneziano (Italy), Dr Samuel Yee (Hong Kong).

However, perhaps the highlight and the most touching moment of the evening the performance of a song written and sung by a young local former patient with a history of #ketaminebladder , who was successfully treated by the urology team lead by Professor Anthony Ng at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong. His surgery and treatment has transformed his life – he is now enjoying a career as both a singer-songwriter of a rock band and as a footballer!


Day 3 of #UAA2017

The morning plenary session also saw the evergreen Dr Peggy Chu of Hong Kong, renown for her discovery of ketamine-associated uropathy and pioneered the management of this challenging 21st century urological disease.


Left to right: Dr CW Man (Hong Kong), Congress President of #UAA2017, and Dr Peggy Chu (Hong Kong).

She delivered a very interesting talk on revisiting the role of #gastrocystoplasty. Interestingly, the operation was first described and carried out in human by the honourable Professor CH Leong at my current institution, Queen Mary Hospital @HKUniversity , in the 1970s following a successful animal study at the same institution. Its use has been limited due to its associated metabolic disturbances, but arguably it is still a weapon that can be used when tackling patients with tuberculosis-associated severely contracted bladder, in particular those who have already been rendered to have a single solitary kidney due to the disease. Another situation when #gastrocystoplasty can still be considered are those patients with #ketamine uropathy. Although patients are usually required to be completely abstinence from #ketamine abuse for a certain lengthy period of time before they are eligible for surgical treatment, many fear the avalanche effect of ileal re-absorption of the drug if an ileo-cystoplasty has been carried out in these patients, if they happen to resume ketamine use in the future. Hence, #gastrocystoplasty may be a better substitution tissue for cystoplasty in the management of such patients.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to catch up with fellow Guy’s Hospital urology graduates @nairajesh and @declanmurphy over a cold pint of Hong Kong locally made #MoonzenBeer, when the temperature outside the conference centre was hitting 34 degrees Celsius!


Left to right: Dr Wayne Lam (Hong Kong), Mr Rajesh Nair (Australia/United Kingdom), A/Prof Declan Murphy (Australia).

All credits to #UAA and the local organisers’ immense effort and hard work, making this congress a valuable learning experience for everyone who participated. We very much look forward to #UAA2018. Bring on Kyoto, Japan!



Wayne Lam

Assistant Professor in Urology, Queen Mary Hospital, University of Hong Kong

Twitter: @WayneLam_Urol










Rajesh Nair

Fellow in Robotic Surgery and Uro-Oncology











Article of the Month: One-stop clinic for ketamine-associated uropathy

Every week the Editor-in-Chief selects the Article of the Week from the current issue of BJUI. The abstract is reproduced below and you can click on the button to read the full article, which is freely available to all readers for at least 30 days from the time of this post.

In addition to the article itself, there is an accompanying editorial written by a prominent member of the urological community. This blog is intended to provoke comment and discussion and we invite you to use the comment tools at the bottom of each post to join the conversation.

If you only have time to read one article this week, it should be this one.

One-stop clinic for ketamine-associated uropathy: report on service delivery model, patients’ characteristics and non-invasive investigations at baseline by a cross-sectional study in a prospective cohort of 318 teenagers and young adults

Yuk-Him Tam*, Chi-Fai Ng*, Kristine Kit-Yi Pang*, Chi-Hang Yee*, Winnie Chiu-Wing Chu†, Vivian Yee-Fong Leung†, Grace Lai-Hung Wong‡, Vincent Wai-Sun Wong‡, Henry Lik-Yuen Chan‡ and Paul Bo-San Lai*

Departments of *Surgery, Youth Urological Treatment Centre, †Imaging and Interventional Radiology, and ‡Medicine and Therapeutics, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China


To describe a service delivery model and report the baseline characteristics of patients investigated by a non-invasive approach for ketamine-associated uropathy.


This was a cross-sectional study in a prospective cohort of patients who attended their first visit and underwent non-invasive investigations at a dedicated centre to treat ketamine-associated uropathy in Hong Kong from December 2011 to July 2013. Data on demographics, illicit ketamine use, symptoms scores and voiding function parameters at baseline were prospectively collected. Differences between active abusers and ex-abusers, and risk factors for the most symptomatic group were investigated by univariate and multivariate analysis.


In all, 318 patients completed the non-invasive assessment at their first visit and were eligible for inclusion. In all, 174 were female and the mean (sd) age of the entire cohort was 24.4 (3.1) years. Patients had used ketamine for a mean (sd) period of 81 (36) months. The mean (sd) ketamine use per week was 18.5 (15.8) g. In all, 214 patients were active abusers while 104 were ex-abusers but had persistent lower urinary tract symptoms. The mean (sd) voided volume, bladder capacity, and bladder emptying efficiency were 111.5 (110) mL, 152.5 (126) mL and 73.3 (26.9)%, respectively. The ex-abusers had a lower symptom score (19.3 vs 24.1; P < 0.001), a larger voided volume (126 vs 85 mL; P < 0.001), and a larger bladder capacity (204.8 vs 126.7 mL; P < 0.001) compared with active abusers. Multivariate analysis found female gender was associated with a higher symptom score (odds ratio [OR] 2.39; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.35–4.23; P = 0.003) and a smaller voided volume (OR 1.9; 95% CI 1.1–3.3; P = 0.02). Ketamine taken (g/week) was another risk factor for a higher symptom score (OR 1.03; 95% CI 1.01–1.05; P = 0.002). Status of ex-abuser was the only protective factor associated with fewer symptoms, larger voided volume and bladder capacity.


An effective service model for recruiting patients with ketamine-associated uropathy is possible. With such a service model as a platform, further prospective studies are warranted to investigate the appropriate choice of treatment for this new clinical entity.

Editorial: Where next in ketamine uropathy? Dedicated management centres?

Tam et al. [1] in this month’s BJUI publish the largest prospective cohort to date on ketamine uropathy (KU). KU is a growing international problem since initial reports in 2007 from Canada and Hong Kong, where ketamine is second only to heroin in popularity amongst drug takers [2, 3]. Prevalence of KU may be higher than previously thought with up to a quarter of people misusing ketamine reporting urinary symptoms [4].

Importantly, the Tam et al. [1] paper demonstrates the benefit of stopping ketamine amongst those presenting with KU. Dose, frequency and dependency upon ketamine have been reported as risk factors for developing KU [1, 4]. Achieving cessation is not always straightforward following identification, assessment and urology input. Consistent with the Winstock et al. [4] recommendations a multi-disciplinary approach is required to assess symptoms and risk profile. The recommendation of Tam et al. of a one-stop clinic is thus appealing.

The key to diagnosing KU, is a focused history including specific drug use, performing non-invasive uroflowmetry investigations and upper tract imaging. Urologists need to be aware of motivational interviewing strategies, and incorporate them in their assessment. Presenting symptoms include dysuria, frequency, urgency and pain that may be consequent on the small contracted bladder that develops in KU. The diagnosis should exclude other bladder diseases and cystoscopy and biopsy is advised [5]. If left late, pain and bladder contraction can be so severe that bladder augmentation, cystectomy and neobladder or ileal conduit may be required [6]. It is strongly advised that ketamine use is stopped before, as ketamine metabolites will be readily absorbed through bowel and potentially lead to a fatal overdose.

In the Tam et al. [1] paper, renal ultrasonography (US, performed on a second visit) showed hydronephrosis in 8%. However, their client uptake for renal US was only 50%. Having a one-stop KU clinic with integrated US is more patient-friendly and consistent with our unit’s one-stop clinic approach [7]. Management of hydronephrosis and reversal of renal impairment is crucial and more definitive surgical management may be warranted. Renal failure secondary to KU may rise as the numbers of ketamine users continues to climb.

What makes KU interesting and difficult to manage is the stigmatising nature of illicit drug use that makes patients uncomfortable in disclosing ketamine use. Patients may not recognise the causal link between ketamine use and their discomfort. Instead symptoms may be attributed to other pathologies such as UTIs, sexually transmitted infections (common in high-risk drug use behaviour), excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption or be mistaken for ‘K cramps’, which may be a direct result of ketamine itself [8]. Pain team input may be required. The Bristol unit report managing KU pain with buprenorphine patches, co-codamol (combination of codeine phosphate and paracetamol) and amitriptyline [5], whereas the Tam et al. [1] unit prefer a combination of diclofenac, anti-cholinergics and opioids.

Promoting early treatment seeking will help reduce the time between symptom onset and assessment. However, due to the nature of ketamine patients, their history may be unreliable, follow-up intermittent and compliance poor. These issues may lead to a delay in presentation and referral.

Ultimately, what is required is a raised awareness among users of the potential for ketamine to cause irreversible bladder and upper tract harm. While abstinence may be the most attractive option for clinicians this remains an unrealistic and unhelpful approach for many users including those most at risk. Consideration needs to be given to support users to reduce harm and to maintain abstinence once achieved. Stopping ketamine may require psychological, addiction and even psychiatric support.

Importantly, clinicians should accept that ketamine users are interested in their own health and wellbeing. They may appreciate learning strategies to minimise their harm risk. Harm reduction strategies as outlined in the Global Drug Survey Highway Code (stay well hydrated, have breaks between use periods, and avoid alcohol use) not only encourage safer use but can raise awareness of symptoms suggestive of KU [9].

Given the complexity of ketamine patients and the fact that users share information, provision of high-quality care from a dedicated understanding team has obvious advantages. An age-appropriate unit including a urologist, psychiatrist, pain management consultant and a sexual health expert provides a comprehensive approach. A one-stop clinic, as described by Tam et al., may expedite initial assessment but withdrawal from ketamine requires long-term investment to achieve overall improvements in KU outcomes.

The key message to get out to the ketamine-using community is that as a rule, marked improvement in function follows cessation of ketamine use. There is an increasing role for the urologist to be a source of credible information to ketamine users and healthcare professionals. Finally, dedicated management centres offering a holistic approach to the management of these patients seems ideal. This will concentrate exposure and understanding of KU, which we hope will help continue to improve management of this difficult condition.

Claire F. Taylor, Adam R. Winstock* and Jonathon Olsburgh

Young Onset Urology Clinic, Urology/Renal Unit, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, and *South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, London, UK


1 Tam YH, Ng CF, Pang KK et al. One-stop clinic for ketamine-associated uropathy: report on service delivery model, patients’ characteristics and non-invasive investigations at baseline by cross-sectional study in a prospective cohort of 318 teenagers and young adults. BJU Int 2014; 114: 754–60


2 Chu PS, Kwok SC, Lam KM et al. ‘Street ketamine’-associated bladder dysfunction: a report of ten cases. Hong Kong Med J 2007; 13: 311–3


3 Shahani R, Streutker C, Dickson B, Stewart RJ. Ketamine-associated ulcerative cystitis: a new clinical entity. Urology 2007; 69: 810–2


4 Winstock AR, Mitcheson L, Gillatt DA, Cottrell AM. The prevalence and natural history of urinary symptoms among recreational ketamine users. BJU Int 2012; 110: 1762–6


5 Wood D, Cottrell A, Baker SC et al. Recreational ketamine: from pleasure to pain. BJU Int 2011; 107: 1881–4


6 NgCF,ChiuPK,LiMLetal.Clinical outcomes of augmentation cystoplasty in patients suffering from ketamine-related bladder contractures. Int Urol Nephrol 2013; 45: 1245–51


7 Coull N, Rottenberg G, Rankin S et al. Assessing the feasibility of a one-stop approach to diagnosis for urological patients. AnnRCollSurg Engl 2009; 91: 305–9


8 Winstock AR, Mitcheson L. New recreational drugs in the primary care approach to patients who use them. BMJ 2012; 344: e288


9 Global Drug Survey Ltd. Global Drug Survey Highway Code. Available at: https://www.globaldrugsurvey.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/The -High-Way-Code_Ketamine.pdf. Accessed September 2014


Ketamine: only for fools and horses

There are many terrifying anecdotes relating to the use of ketamine and the damage that sustained daily use may cause to the urinary tract. These include those reported in the medical literature and through the wider media. Reports of ketamine-related deaths, memory loss, hepatobiliary damage, ureteric obstruction with renal failure and profound bladder pain. Use is recorded in teenagers with the ability for a child to demonstrate symptoms to their peers becoming a badge of honour. At UCLH we are working closely with colleagues to provide improving care for this new disease. We have links with the Club Drug clinic in London and Lifeline, another drug support agency. We aim to help patients come off ketamine and re-assess their symptoms once that is true – a few patients have needed major surgery but many have recovered well without.

The drug is now the most widely used drug of abuse in China – its use appears to be growing elsewhere. In the UK figures from the Home Office in 2013 suggested that 120,000 16–59 year olds had used ketamine over the preceding 12 months. Experts have suggested that between 20 and 30% of daily users will develop urinary symptoms. This was confirmed in a recent survey of ketamine users where 27% reported urinary symptoms and only half improved with cessation.

Many myths exist about how ketamine can be safe if taken with lots of water or that it is not addictive – neither of which are true.  With appropriate questioning we can and do recognize the link between ketamine and damage to the urinary tract. As urologists we are less well informed about the other risks such as the psychological or hepatobiliary damage that are also seen. Support for rehabilitation and cessation of ketamine lies in the hands of a few interested groups and is certainly not widespread. However, there is universal agreement that cessation is a vital component of treatment – patients will often see a substantial improvement in symptoms. Many users seeking help for urological symptoms struggle to find informed support to help come off the drug. It has been suggested that there is little money to support agencies in helping people to stop ketamine use – this may be due to a lack of criminal activity linked to ketamine. Whilst the damage to an individual may be significant – the impact on society is perceived as small and this appears to reflect the money available to tackle it. 

Last week in the UK, as the media reported the death of an 18 year old girl from ketamine, the government announced it had accepted the recommendation of the Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs and that it was upgrading ketamine from class C to a class B drug.

Reclassification from Class C to B will put ketamine alongside codeine, cannabis, amphetamine and mephedrone. This increases the prison term for possession from two to five years. It remains to be seen whether this will have any direct effect. If it sends a clear message that taking recreational ketamine does you harm or it facilitates an improved environment and support for ketamine cessation then that may benefit some. To the uninitiated the potential risks may be that reclassification could push up cost and that adulterants may be further introduced. This could add to the unpredictability of an effect that even now requires further clarification.

The fact that the issues surrounding ketamine are being discussed is important – it will help users, potential users and healthcare professionals to recognize the symptoms and the risks. Much wider and more detailed education is needed to try and prevent damage to more users.

Mr Dan Wood
Consultant in Adolescent and Reconstructive Urology
University College London Hospitals
Honorary Consultant Urologist, Great Ormond Street Hospital
Honorary Senior Lecturer University College London

Twitter @drdanwood


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