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Article of the Week: Perioperative and functional outcomes of elective RAPN for renal tumors with high surgical complexity

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.

Perioperative and renal functional outcomes of elective robot-assisted partial nephrectomy for renal tumors with high surgical complexity

Alessandro Volpe*†, Diletta Garrou*‡, Daniele Amparore*‡, Geert De Naeyer*, Francesco Porpiglia‡, Vincenzo Ficarra*§ and Alexandre Mottrie*

*Division of Urology, O.L.V. Vattikuti Robotic Surgery Institute, Aalst, Belgium, †Division of Urology, University of Eastern Piedmont, Maggiore della Carità Hospital, Novara, ‡Division of Urology, University of Torino, San Luigi Hospital, Orbassano, and §Division of Urology, University of Udine, Udine, Italy

OBJECTIVE

To evaluate the perioperative, postoperative and functional outcomes of robot-assisted partial nephrectomy (RAPN) for renal tumours with high surgical complexity at a large volume centre.

PATIENTS AND METHODS

Perioperative and functional outcomes of RAPNs for renal tumours with a Preoperative Aspects and Dimensions Used for an Anatomical (PADUA) score of ≥10 performed at our institution between September 2006 and December 2012 were collected in a prospectively maintained database and analysed. Surgical complications were graded according to the Clavien-Dindo classification. Serum creatinine and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) were assessed at the third postoperative day and 3–6 months after RAPN.

RESULTS

In all, 44 RAPNs for renal tumours with PADUA scores of ≥10 were included in the analysis; 23 tumours (52.3%) were cT1b. The median (interquartile range; range) operative time, estimated blood loss and warm ischaemia time (WIT) were 120 (94, 132; 60–230) min, 150 (80, 200; 25–1200) mL and 16 (13.8, 18; 5–35) min, respectively. Two intraoperative complications occurred (4.5%): one inferior vena caval injury and one bleed from the renal bed, which were both managed robotically. There were postoperative complications in 10 patients (22.7%), of whom four (9.1%) were high Clavien grade, including two bleeds that required percutaneous embolisation, one urinoma that resolved with ureteric stenting and one bowel occlusion managed with laparoscopic adhesiolysis. Two patients (4.5%) had positive surgical margins (PSMs) and were followed expectantly with no radiological recurrence at a mean follow-up of 23 months. The mean serum creatinine levels were significantly increased after surgery (121.1 vs 89.3 μmol/L; P = 0.001), but decreased over time, with no significant differences from the preoperative values at the 6-month follow-up (96.4 vs 89.3 μmol/L; P = 0.09). The same trend was seen for eGFR.

CONCLUSION

In experienced hands RAPN for renal tumours with a PADUA score of ≥10 is feasible with short WIT, acceptable major complication rate and good long-term renal functional outcomes. A slightly higher risk of PSMs can be expected due to the high surgical complexity of these lesions. The robotic technology allows a safe expansion of the indications of minimally invasive PN to anatomically very challenging renal lesions in referral centres.

Editorial: Complex tumours, partial nephrectomy and functional outcomes

In the paper by Volpe et al. [1], excellent renal functional outcomes are associated with partial nephrectomy in patients with high PADUA score cancers. The study is notable because it shows that, even in patients who are typically considered candidates for radical nephrectomy, partial nephrectomy can maintain excellent estimated GFR (eGFR) and outcomes; however, because we perform nephron-sparing procedures on patients who may also be candidates for radical nephrectomy, we must consider the varied nature of some of the data on partial nephrectomy.

The literature on renal ischaemia and functional outcomes is heterogeneous and highly debated [2]. There have been several contradictory studies and changes over time in the literature based on technology, surgeon, centre, measurement and, now, correlation with parenchyma-sparing.

A study conducted by the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) compared radical nephrectomy (essentially an ischaemic time of infinity) and partial nephrectomy, reporting a 10-year overall survival benefit for patients treated with radical nephrectomy [3]. Nevertheless, this oft-criticized randomised trial also showed better eGFR in partial nephrectomy. The survival benefit reported in that study is countered by population-based studies suggesting that partial nephrectomy may still be a better option when feasible [4]. Unfortunately, these population-based studies may be considered to provide a lower level of evidence than a randomised study, and are also prone to several biases, the most notable being selection of both patients and centres. Surgeons may be more likely to perform nephron-sparing in patients in lower-risk groups. There are also other questions to consider. If a patient is more likely to be referred to a larger centre for partial nephrectomy, are they not also likely to be referred for their coronary artery bypass, aortic surgery, general medical care and even emergency care? Are these patients more likely to seek out second opinions for all of their medical care? Will this affect mortality? Are they more motivated and engaged in their own overall healthcare? These are just a few of the confounding factors that could influence outcomes and are difficult to control in population-based studies. Nevertheless, I am a firm believer in partial nephrectomy, and particularly in preserving renal function, as the better choice for the treatment of both straightforward and complex lesions. It will be difficult, however, to completely negate the implications of the EORTC trial.

Does reasonable ischaemic time affect eGFR outcome? The present study by Volpe et al. [1] would suggest that reasonable ischaemic times are completely acceptable. Several contradictory studies point out the benefits and risks of a limited or minimized clamp time for partial nephrectomy. Another separate paper by White et al. [5] is consistent with other studies that show that a clamped partial nephrectomy, even for high complexity masses, results in a minimal loss of renal function, if at all. Although there is also enthusiasm for a zero ischaemia technique, it is critical to point out that this may be surgeon-, patient-, technique- and institution-dependent. Ultimately, however, we are splitting hairs over a few points of eGFR. The real issue with long-term GFR outcomes in our patients is not only the impact of a few minutes of renal ischaemia, but also control of hypertension, diabetes and their role in medical renal disease. There is an absence of urological literature that controls for patients’ glycated haemoglobin levels or measures hypertension monthly and records the response to medical therapy. These critical pieces of information confound all eGFR and comparative measurements and make it difficult to compare published outcomes. Perhaps the best medical advice we can give patients is to diet, exercise and eat healthily for better overall health. In some sense, this advice may be far more important than the decision of partial vs radical nephrectomy for a complex mass.

What are the logical conclusions of these dilemmas? Clamped partial nephrectomy is possible in complex cases, and the procedure salvages eGFR. Further refinements are also interesting academically, including papers on parenchyma-sparing. Nevertheless, if we are serious about ‘healthy kidneys’, we might take a holistic approach and encourage our patients to pursue a healthier lifestyle so they can bolster lifelong preservation of renal function and general wellness. Would the effect be more profound than a few minutes of ischaemic time? I am betting it would.

Sam B. Bhayani 

Division of Urological Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, St Louis, MO, USA

References

1 Volpe A, Garrou D, Amparore D et al. Perioperative and renal functional outcomes of elective robot-assisted partial nephrectomy for renal tumors with high surgical complexity. BJU Int 2014; 114: 903–9

2 Lane BR, Russo P, Uzzo RG et al. Comparison of cold and warm ischemia during partial nephrectomy in 660 solitary kidneys reveals predominant roles of nonmodifiable factors in determining ultimate renal function. J Urol 2011; 185: 421–7

3 Van Poppel H, Da Pozzo L, Albrecht W et al. A prospective, randomized EORTC intergroup phase 3 study comparing the oncologic outcome of elective nephron-sparing surgery and radical nephrectomy for low-stage renal cell carcinoma. Eur Urol 2011; 59: 543–52

4 Sun M, Trinh Q-D, Bianchi M et al. A non-cancer related survival benefit is associated with partial nephrectomy. Eur Urol 2012; 61: 725–31

5 White MA, Georges-Pascal H, Autorino R et al. Outcomes of robotic partial nephrectomy for renal masses with nephrometry score of ≥ 7. Urology 2011; 77: 809–13

 

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