Tag Archive for: Ureteric stones

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Best Practice Tariffs: could they be the solution to compliance with British Association of Urological Surgeons ureteric stone targets?

In January 2019, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) and British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS) published new guidance on the management of Acute Ureteric Stones. This guidance suggests that primary definitive treatment should be the goal for all symptomatic ureteric stones, via either ureteroscopy (URS) or extra-corporeal shock wave lithotripsy (EWSL), and should be undertaken within 48 hours of acute presentation.

This is in stark contrast to current practice in the UK: Getting It Right First Time evidence suggests 20% (2-49%) of acute stones are currently treated in this way with only 8% treated primarily with URS and just 2% with primary ESWL.

It has been shown that primary definitive treatment of acute stones within 48 hours has superior outcomes to secondary definitive treatment after stenting; including a higher chance of achieving a stone free state, lower chance of needing retreatment, reduced exposure to general anaesthetic and associated complications, and avoidance of stent-associated symptoms.

However, due to the nature of current emergency surgery provision in UK NHS Trusts, primary definitive treatment is often impossible. Procedures are performed on pressured CEPOD lists which may not be set up for laser treatment (lacking suitable equipment and trained scrub staff) and are often incredibly time-pressured, necessitating ureteric stenting as a faster and simpler option.

Whilst the upfront investment required to provide sufficient resources and training is expected to be recovered downstream by reducing costs associated with stent use and the need for multiple procedures, NHS Trusts are reluctant to make these upfront investments unless incentivised.

We propose a potential solution in the form of Best Practice Tariffs (BPTs).

Traditionally, NHS Trusts receive their income from Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) on the basis of a ‘Payment by Results’ (PbR) system. Under this system, tariffs are calculated based on the national average cost for clinically similar treatments (grouped together into healthcare resource groups; HRGs) and Trusts can retain additional income by keeping costs below this national average.  However, this can lead to wide variations in the standards of care. Lord Darzi’s 2008 ‘High Quality Care For All – NHS Next Stage Review’ report suggested that a revised payment system be used, where payment depended on compliance with best-known practice; a best-practice tariff (BPT).

BPTs have now been rolled out across more than 50 diseases and procedures including cholecystectomies, strokes/TIA and NSTEMIs and are recognised as an effective tool for changing practice in an acute setting.

One of the earliest examples was in the management of fractured neck of femurs (NOFs). The base tariff was halved and an additional BPT of £1,335 was made available if seven key ‘best practice’ criteria were met. A dramatic improvement in adherence to national guidelines for management of NOF fractures was seen after introduction of this BPT as shown in Figure 1 (Royal College of Physicians; 2014).

Of particular relevance here was the BPT criteria that required a ‘time to surgery within 36 hours from arrival in A&E to the start of anaesthesia’. The overall median time reduced from 44 hours pre-BPT to 23 hours post-BPT (p<0.005) and the proportion of patients being operated on within 36 hours of admission increased from 36% pre-BPT to 84% post-BPT (p<0.005).

BPTs have the most potential utility for high volume procedures with large variations in national practice and where there is a strong evidence base regarding what constitutes best practice. Renal stones are high volume, affecting 12.5% of the population and resulting in 18,000 URS  procedures a year. There is significant national variation in management and there is strong evidence on best practice.

Therefore, if we truly believe that the BAUS and NICE guidelines are in the best interests of patients, BPTs should be considered as a tool to prompt a rapid paradigm shift and make the gold standard, of primary definitive treatment within 48 hours, the new norm.

Further details available here.

by Sam Folkard, Richard Menzies-Wilson, Charlotte Burford, Paula Pal and James Green

Twitter: @FolkardSam

Residents’ podcast: NICE guidelines – renal and ureteric stones

Nikita Bhatt is a Specialist Trainee in Urology in the East of England Deanery and a BURST Committee member @BURSTUrology

NICE Guideline – Renal and ureteric stones: assessment and management

Context

Renal and ureteric stones usually present as an acute episode with severe pain, although some stones are picked up incidentally during imaging or may present as a history of infection. The initial diagnosis is made by taking a clinical history and examination and carrying out imaging; initial management is with painkillers and treatment of any infection.

Ongoing treatment of renal and ureteric stones depends on the site of the stone and size of the stone (less than 10 mm, 10 to 20 mm, greater than 20 mm; staghorn stones). Options for treatment range from observation with pain relief to surgical intervention. Open surgery is performed very infrequently; most surgical stone management is minimally invasive and the interventions include shockwave lithotripsy (SWL), ureteroscopy (URS) and percutaneous stone removal (surgery). As well as the site and size of the stone, treatment also depends on local facilities and expertise. Most centres have access to SWL, but many use a mobile machine on a sessional basis rather than a fixed‐site machine, which has easier access during the working week. The use of a mobile machine may affect options for emergency treatment, but may also add to waiting times for non‐emergency treatment.

Although URS for renal and ureteric stones is increasing (there has been a 49% increase from 12,062 treatments in 2009/10, to 18,066 in 2014/15 [Hospital Episode Statistics data]), there is a trend towards day‐case/ambulatory care, with this increasing by 10% to 31,000 cases a year between 2010 and 2015. The total number of bed‐days used for renal stone disease has fallen by 15% since 2009/10. However, waiting times for treatment are increasing and this means that patient satisfaction is likely to be lower.

Because the incidence of renal and ureteric stones and the rate of intervention are increasing, there is a need to reduce recurrences through patient education and lifestyle changes. Assessing dietary factors and changing lifestyle have been shown to reduce the number of episodes in people with renal stone disease.

Adults, children and young people using services, their families and carers, and the public will be able to use the guideline to find out more about what NICE recommends, and help them make decisions. These recommendations apply to all settings in which NHS‐commissioned care is provided.

 

 

Table 2.Surgical treatment (including SWL) of ureteric stones in adults, children and young people Abbreviations: PCNL, percutaneous nephrolithotomy; SWL, shockwave lithotripsy; URS, ureteroscopy.

 

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NICE Stone Guidelines 2019

The NICE (National Institute For Health And Care Excellence) “Renal and ureteric stones: assessment and management” guideline NG118 was published on-line on Tuesday 8th January 2019 and appeared on the BJUI website on Friday 18th January.

NICE guidelines are based on the best available evidence for the treatment of the specific clinical condition evaluated (i.e. from randomised controlled trials) and aim to provide recommendations that will improve the quality of healthcare within the NHS. As such, the need for a particular guideline is determined by NHS England, and NICE commissions the NGC produce it. The renal and ureteric stone guidelines are comprised a series of evidence reports, each based on the PICO system for a systematic review, covering the breadth of stone management in patients with symptomatic and asymptomatic renal or ureteric stones from initial diagnosis and pain management, through the much debated subject of medical expulsive therapy, to a comprehensive assessment of the surgical treatment of stone disease, including pre- and post- treatment stenting. Follow up imaging, dietary intervention and metabolic investigations have also been reviewed and analysed in detail. These reports are summarised in what is referred to as “The NICE Guideline”, and which is published in the BJUI itself in the February issue (Volume 123, Issue 2, February 2019).  The guideline uses the term “offer” to indicate a strong recommendation with the alternative “consider” to indicate a less robust evidence base, with both terms chosen to highlight the need for patient-centred discussion and shared decision making. Indeed, the preface to The Guideline points out the importance of clinical judgment, and that “the individual needs, preferences and values” of patients should be taken into account in decision making, emphasising that “the guideline does not override the responsibility to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual”.

We have written these blogs to highlight the individual reports, which can be downloaded from NICE at www.nice.org.uk, and to stimulate some thoughts and comments about their implications for the management of stone patients in the UK and internationally. 

Daron Smith and Jonathan Glass
Institute of Urology, UCH and Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals
London, January 15th 2019

 

Daron Smith Commentary

Considering the patient journey to begin with acute ureteric colic, the first recommendation is that a low-dose non-contrast CT should be performed within 24 hours of presentation (unless a child or pregnant) [Evidence Review B, a 73 page document analysing 5224 screened articles, of which 13 were of sufficient quality to be included in the review]. Their pain management should be with NSAIDs as first line pain relief, i.v. paracetamol as second line and opioids as third line, but antispasmodics should not be used [Evidence Review E, a 227 page document for which 1685 articles were screened, of which 38 were of sufficient quality to be included in the review]. Somewhat contentiously for UK practice, given the SUSPEND findings, is that alpha blockers should be considered for patients with distal ureteric stones less than 10 mm [Evidence Review D, a 424 page document for which 1351 articles were screened, of which 71 were of sufficient quality to be included in the review].

As far as stone interventions are concerned, observation was deemed to be reasonable for asymptomatic stones, especially if less than 5mm, that ESWL should be offered for renal stones less than 10mm and PCNL offered for those greater than 20mm with those in between having all options to be considered. Ureteric stones less than 10mm should be offered ESWL (unless unlikely to be cleared within 4 weeks, or contraindicated, or previously failed) whereas ureteric stones larger than 10mm should be offered URS. These conclusions were drawn from 2459 articles of which 66 were of sufficient quality to be included and summarised [Evidence Review F, a 369 page document]. Perhaps the most important aspect for change in practice relate to the use of stents (both before and after treatment) and the timing of definitive intervention (i.e. without a prior temporising JJ stent). Specifically, the guidance recommends patients with uncontrolled pain, or where the stone is deemed unlikely to pass spontaneously, should have definitive treatment within 48 hours [Evidence Review G, a 39 page document based on 3234 screened articles of which 3 were of sufficient quality to be included in the review]. Stents should not be inserted before ESWL for either renal or ureteric stones [Evidence Review H, a78 page document for which 1630 articles were screened, 7 being sufficiently high quality to be included in the review]. Patients who undergo URS for stones less than 20mm should not have a post-operative stent placed as a matter of routine [Evidence Review I, a 107 page document  derived from 1630 screened articles of which 17 were of sufficient quality to be included in the review]. Clearly individual circumstances (ureteric trauma, need for second phase procedure, infection, risk of renal insufficiency) apply to this decision. Given that currently a URS is reimbursed at £2,172, and stent removal as £1,018, perhaps it is time that the treatment episode is remunerated as a combined £3,190, thereby encouraging stent-less procedures instead of stented ones…

Once the treatment is complete, the optimum frequency of follow-up imaging was assessed, comparing monitoring visits less than 6 monthly against 6 monthly and with rapid access/review on request, a strategy that includes no follow up at all for asymptomatic patients [presented in the 29 page Evidence Review J, in which 2385 articles were screened, but none of which were of sufficient quality to be included in the review]. No specific recommendations could therefore be made, other than the need to specifically evaluate the effectiveness of 6 monthly reviews for three years in future research. Of course, if preventative management were more effective, then imaging review would become less important… The guidelines have also reviewed the non-surgical options to avoid stone recurrence [summarised in Evidence Review K – “prevention of recurrence” – a 141 page document in which 3187 articles were screened, of which 19 were of sufficient quality to be included in the review and Evidence Review C, an 81 page document in which 1785 articles were screened, of which 10 were of sufficient quality to be included in the review]. These advised a fluid intake of 2.5 to 3 litres of water per day (with added lemon juice) and that dietary sodium intake should be restricted but calcium intake should not. As far as medical therapy is concerned, potassium citrate and thiazide diuretics should be considered in patients with calcium oxalate stones and hypercalciuria respectively.

In the final aspect of the pathway for stone patients, the clinical and cost effectiveness of metabolic investigations including stone analysis, blood and urine tests (serum calcium and uric acid levels, and urine volume, pH, calcium, oxalate, citrate, sodium, uric acid and cystine) were compared to the outcomes achieved with no metabolic testing following treatment as appropriate for any recurrent stones. Outcomes sought included stone recurrence and need for any intervention, the nature of any metabolic abnormality detected, Quality of life and Adverse events related to the tests or treatment [reported in the 36 page Evidence Review A, in which 933 articles were screened, but which none were of sufficient quality to be reviewed]. A formal research study to evaluate the clinical and cost effectiveness of a full metabolic assessment compared with standard advice alone in people with recurrent calcium oxalate stones was recommended. Following comments in the review process, the guidelines have recommendation that serum calcium should be checked, and biochemical stone analysis considered.

In addition to these individual topic reports, a 49 page evidence review summaries the research methodology and provides an extensive glossary of terms, and a 73 page “Costing analysis of surgical treatments” provides the information regarding the cost effectiveness of the treatments, such as the estimates that 1000 URS procedures and follow up would cost £3,328,895 compared with £961,376 for 1000 ESWL treatments and follow up.

In conclusion, the NICE Guideline Renal and ureteric stones: assessment and management (NG118) is a 33 page summary of over 1700 pages of evidence and analysis. It is therefore an example of where the parts are very much greater than the sum: there is an enormous wealth of high quality data presented in the eleven Evidence Reviews, which are like individual handbooks of contemporary stone management, almost exclusively based on Level 1 Randomised Controlled Trial Evidence. At a time when Brexit dominates national and international news, this is a British Export that we can be proud of.

The real test, of course, will be in the delivery of these ideals, and it is likely that the goal of treating symptomatic patients with ureteric stones within 48 hours will be difficult to achieve. However, the guidance also points out that “local commissioners and providers of healthcare have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual professionals and people using services wish to use it”. Along with the GIRFT report, the NICE guidelines are key drivers for change not just in the way that stone patients are managed by their urologist, but in the way that they are treated by the system. Who does not want to be able to treat a patient in pain, with a definitive intervention (be it ESWL or URS) within 48 hours, and without the need for a stent for either the patient or Urologist to worry about. That is the goal that these guidelines have set us; achieving that would be something that Endourologists can be very proud of, and our patients will be extremely grateful for. Are we up for the challenge?

DS
London, January 2019

Jonathan Glass Commentary

The NICE Stone Guidelines – clarification or confusion?

This guideline covers assessing and managing renal and ureteric stones.
It aims
to improve the detection, clearance and prevention of stones, so reducing
pain and
anxiety, and improving quality of  life’.

This is the opening paragraph of the recently produced NICE guidelines on the management of urinary tract stones.  The guidelines have been produced in the context of existing guidelines produced by the European Association of Urology and the American Urological Association pre-existing, and one hoped that these guidelines would add something for the treatment of stone disease in the UK to justify the expenditure spent producing them.  I write these comments in full recognition of the terms of reference to which NICE adheres in producing a set of guidelines.

I, with other members of the committee of the Section of Endourology of BAUS wrote a response to the draft guidelines and we are delighted that the committee has changed some aspects of the published guidelines as a result of our (and other contributions) to the consultation process.  I must record however that what follows is a personal opinion, and not that of the committee.

These guidelines do refer to patients with a single stone.  That of course immediately means that they have limited application to many of our patients who have multiple stones at first presentation.

The draft guidelines, which are in the public domain, stated ‘Do not use opioids’ in the treatment of ureteric colic.  Although this has been changed to ‘Do not offer opioids to adults, children and young people with suspected renal colic unless both NSAIDs and intravenous paracetamol are contraindicated or have not been effective’ this still potentially leaves patient in severe pain for too long.  Our first duty as doctors is to relieve pain.  In my view, as a doctor caring for stone patients but also as an individual who has suffered ureteric colic, if opioids are needed, they should be given in a timely manner.

The recommendations on medical expulsive therapy are unusual at best and arguably a little bizarre and confusing to the British urologist.  There is good evidence from a large UK study – the SUSPEND trial – that alpha blockers have little role to play in improving stone passage.  This is the best level 1 evidence in the use of alpha blockers in stone disease.  The study was sponsored by the NIHR and as such was truly independent, was statistically robust, and randomised.  A representation was made to the guidelines committee by the Aberdeen group that published the study following distribution of the draft guidelines pointing out the robust nature of their study and the less than robust nature of the studies that made up the meta-analysis from which the guideline was derived. I would suggest that this guideline puts British urologists in a situation of huge uncertainty about how we advise our patients in this regard.  Do we tell our patients the best evidence shows one course of action – not to use alpha blockers, but the NICE guidelines suggest another path?  (I am pleased however that the administration of nifedipine, the use of which appeared in the draft guidelines, was removed from the final document).

The recommendation about pre-stenting children with staghorn stones prior to lithotripsy is arguably an historical perspective.  Children with staghorn stones should be considered for primary percutaneous surgery. The recommendation in the guideline possibly reflects review of papers in a field where treatments and approaches to care have changed considerably in the last 10 years.  I recognise that robust level 1A evidence is lacking for these interventions.  It could indeed be argued that a guideline stating ‘consider ESWL, ureteroscopy or PCNL’ for stones 10-20mm and for stones greater than 20mm or staghorn stones is of limited use. Complex patients require bespoke care individualised to the patient in front of the clinician, taking in to account the stone and all other factors with respect to the patient other than the stone.

Suggesting treatment within 48 hours of presentation of patients with ureteric stones including lithotripsy will put urologists under huge pressure.  Patients could hold up these guidelines and demand care.  Treatment within 48 hours is often unnecessary, has huge cost implications, may well be unachievable and could lead to excessive intervention.  To introduce it successfully, given that most stones present to district general hospitals, would suggest that NICE is calling for a lithotripter in every DGH, and in so doing, suggests the death of the mobile lithotripsy service; alternatively it will require the rapid and streamlined transfer of patients to stone centres for intervention.  Either way the cost implications of this are considerable.  I am certainly an advocate for the clinically appropriate timely treatment of stone patients but producing guidelines that are possibly unrealistic and impossible to implement might be considered a missed opportunity.

The recommendation to not offer routine stenting to patients undergoing ureteroscopy is controversial.  As clinicians we understand the symptoms caused by stents.  We also know the risk of sepsis following any stone intervention, the pain from stones obstructing the ureter and the oedema generated by ureteroscopy in the unstented ureter.  Sepsis from urological disease is life threatening. These guidelines allow the legal justification of leaving a ureter unstented post ureteroscopy.  I don’t know and can’t always predict which patients are going to go septic post intervention.  Stents in this scenario save lives but proving that with level 1A evidence is nigh on impossible.  I have concerns that this recommendation is potentially harmful and may be dangerous.  We accept that many patients have interventions and procedures that may appear unnecessary to protect the few where it is life saving.  This is true of nasogastric tubes following major surgery, of patients having a radical prostatectomy, of the placement of the nephrostomy tube following percutaneous surgery.  It is also true of stents after ureteroscopy.

The metabolic considerations are a little odd.  Sending the stone for analysis is only something that should be considered in these guidelines, and yet recommendations are made – based on the stone analysis.  Similarly, there are no recommendations for metabolic testing beyond taking a serum calcium, and yet treatments are recommended for patients with hypocitraturia or hypercalciuria with no suggestion when and in whom these conditions should be sought and diagnosed.

Is this an opportunity lost?  Do these recommendations justify the considerable cost in time and money that NICE has put in?  Are these guidelines potentially harmful – and will they result in the justification of stones not being sent for analysis, the inappropriate use of alpha blockers, obstructed infected kidneys after ureteroscopy and a serum creatinine never being sent.

I have a healthy scepticism for medicine by committee. The MDT discusses treatments for prostate cancer and makes recommendations without the patient being present.  I am not sure this process has relieved me of my scepticism.  ‘This guideline… aims to improve the detection, clearance and prevention of stones, so reducing pain and anxiety, and improving quality of life’.  Read them, and decide for yourselves whether these aims have been met and the expense producing them justified.

JG
London, January 2019

 

 

Highlights from BAUS 2016

1.1

In the week following Britain’s exit from Europe after the BREXIT referendum, BAUS 2016 got underway in Liverpool’s BT convention Centre. This was the 72nd meeting of the British Association of Urological Surgeons and it was well attended with 1120 delegates (50% Consultant Member Urologists, 30% Trainees, 10% Non member Urologists/Other, 10% Nurses, HCP’S, Scientists).

1.2

Monday saw a cautionary session on medicolegal aspects in Andrology, focusing on lawsuits over the last year. Mr Mark Speakman presented on the management issue of testicular torsion. This sparked further discussion on emergency cover for paediatrics with particular uncertainty noted at 4 and 5 year olds and great variation in approach dependent on local trust policy. Mr Julian Shah noted the most litigious areas of andrology, with focus on cosmesis following circumcisions. Therefore serving a reminder on the importance of good consent to manage patients’ expectations.

1.3

In the Dragons’ Den, like the TV show, junior urologists pitched their ideas for collaborative research projects, to an expert panel. This year’s panel was made up of – Mark Emberton, Ian Pearce, and Graeme MacLennan. The session was chaired by Veeru Kasivisvanathan, Chair of the BURST Research Collaborative.

1.4

Eventual winner Ben Lamb, a trainee from London, presented “Just add water”. The pitch was for an RCT to investigate the efficacy of water irrigation following TURBT against MMC in reducing tumour recurrence. Ben proposed that water, with its experimental tumouricidal properties, might provide a low risk, low cost alternative as an adjuvant agent following TURBT. Judges liked the scientific basis for this study and the initial planning for an RCT. The panel discussed the merits of non-inferiority vs. superiority methodology, and whether the team might compare MMC to MMC with the addition of water, or water instead of MMC. They Dragons’ suggested that an initial focus group to investigate patients’ views on chemotherapy might help to focus the investigation and give credence to the final research question, important when making the next pitch- to a funding body, or ethics committee.

Other proposals were from Ryad Chebbout, working with Marcus Cumberbatch, an academic trainee from Sheffield. Proposing to address the current controversy over the optimal surgical technique for orchidopexy following testicular torsion. His idea involved conducting a systematic review, a national survey of current practice followed by a Delphi consensus meeting to produce evidence based statement of best practice. The final presentation was from Sophia Cashman, East of England Trainee for an RCT to assess the optimal timing for a TWOC after urinary retention. The panel liked the idea of finally nailing down an answer to this age-old question.

1.5

Waking up on Tuesday with England out of the European football cup as well as Europe the conference got underway with an update from the PROMIS trial (use of MRI to detect prostate cancer). Early data shows that multi-parametric MRI may be accurate enough to help avoid some prostate biopsies.

1.6

The SURG meeting provided useful information for trainees, with advice on progressing through training and Consultant interviews. A debate was held over run through training, which may well be returning in the future. The Silver cystoscope was awarded to Professor Rob Pickard voted for by the trainees in his deanery, for his devotion to their training.
Wednesday continued the debate on medical expulsion therapy (MET) for ureteric stones following the SUSPEND trial. Most UK Urologists seem to follow the results of the trial and have stopped prescribing alpha blockers to try and aid stone passage and symptoms. However the AUA are yet to adopt this stance and feel that a sub analysis shows some benefit for stones >5mm, although this is not significant and pragmatic outcomes. Assistant Professor John Hollingsworth (USA) argued for MET, with Professor Sam McClinton (UK) against. A live poll at the end of the session showed 62.9% of the audience persuaded to follow the SUSPEND trial evidence and stop prescribing MET.

1.7

In the debate of digital versus fibreoptic scopes for flexible ureteroscopy digital triumphed, but with a narrow margin.

1.8

In other updates and breaking news it appears that BCG is back! However during the shortage EMDA has shown itself to be a promising alternative in the treatment of high grade superficial bladder cancer.
The latest BAUS nephrectomy data shows that 90% are performed by consultant, with 16 on average per consultant per year. This raises some issues for registrar training, however with BAUS guidelines likely to suggest 20 as indicative numbers this is looking to be an achievable target for most consultants. Robotic advocates will be encouraged, as robotic partial nephrectomy numbers have overtaken open this year. The data shows 36% of kidney tumours in the under 40 years old are benign. Will we have to consider biopsying more often? However data suggests we should be offering more cytoreductive nephrectomies, with only roughly 1/10 in the UK performed compared to 3/10 in the USA.

1.91.10

The andrology section called for more recruitment to The MASTER trial (Male slings vs artificial urinary sphincters), whereas the OPEN trial has recruited(open urethroplasty vs optical urethotomy). In the treatment of Peyronie’s disease collagenase has been approved by NICE but not yet within the NHS.

Endoluminal endourology presentation showed big increases in operative numbers with ureteroscopy up by 50% and flexible ureteroscopy up by 100%. Stents on strings were advocated to avoid troubling stent symptoms experienced by most patients. New evidence may help provide a consensus on defining “stone free” post operation. Any residual stones post-operatively less than 2mm were shown to pass spontaneously and therefore perhaps may be classed as “stone free”.

Big changes seem likely in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, with a race to replace the old favorite TURP. Trials have of TURP (mono and bipolar) vs greenlight laser are already showing similar 2 year outcomes with the added benefit of shorter hospital stays and less blood loss. UROLIFT is an ever more popular alternative with data showing superiority to TURP in lifestyle measures, likely because it preserves sexual function, and we are told it can be performed as a 15 minute day case operation. The latest new therapy is apparently “Aquabeam Aquablation”, using high pressured water to remove the prostate. Non surgical treatments are also advancing with ever more accurate super selective embolisation of the prostatic blood supply.

1.11

This year all accepted abstracts were presented in moderated EPoster sessions. The format was extremely successful removing the need for paper at future conferences? A total of 538 abstracts were submitted and 168 EPosters displayed. The winner of best EPoster was P5-5 Altaf Mangera: Bladder Cancer in the Neuropathic Bladder.

1.12

The best Academic Paper winner was Mark Salji of the CRUK Beatson institute, titled “A Urinary Peptide Biomarker Panel to Identify Significant Prostate Cancer”. Using capillary electrophoresis coupled to mass spectrometry (CE-MS) they analysed 313 urine samples from significant prostate cancer patients (Gleason 8-10 or T3/4 disease) and low grade control disease. They identified 94 peptide urine biomarkers which may provide a useful adjunct in identifying significant prostate cancer from insignificant disease.

The Office of Education offered 20 courses. Popular off-site courses were ultrasound for the Urologist, at Broadgreen Hospital, a slightly painful 30 min drive from the conference centre. However well worth the trip, delivered by Radiology consultants this included the chance to scan patients volunteers under guidance, with separate stations for kidneys, bladder and testicles and learning the “knobology” of the machines.

Organised by Tamsin Greenwell with other consultant experts in female, andrology and retroperitoneal cancer, a human cadaveric anatomy course was held at Liverpool university. The anatomy teaching was delivered by both Urology consultants and anatomists allowing for an excellent combination of theory and functional anatomy.

BAUS social events are renowned and with multiple events planned most evenings were pretty lively. The official drinks reception was held at the beautiful Royal Liver Building. The venue was stunning with great views over the waterfront and the sun finally shining. Several awards were presented including the Gold cystoscope to Mr John McGrath for significant contribution to Urology within 10 years appointment as consultant. The Keith Yeates medal was awarded to Mr Raj Pal, the most outstanding candidate in the first sitting of the intercollegiate specilaity examination, with a score of over 80%.

1.13

During the conference other BAUS awards presented include the St Peter’s medal was awarded to Margeret Knowles, Head of section of molecular oncology, Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology, St James University hospital Leeds. The St Paul’s medal awarded to Professor Joseph A. Smith, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, USA. The Gold medal went to Mr. Tim Terry, Leicester General Hospital.

An excellent industry exhibition was on display, with 75 Exhibiting Companies present. My personal fun highlight was a flexible cystoscope with integrated stent remover, which sparked Top Gear style competiveness when the manufacturer set up a time-trial leaderboard. Obviously this best demonstrated the speed of stent removal with some interesting results…

1.14

Social media review shows good contribution daily.

1.15

1.16
Thanks BAUS a great conference, very well organised and delivered with a great educational and social content, looking forward to Glasgow 2017! #BAUS2017 #Glasgow #BAUSurology

Nishant Bedi

Specialist Training Registrar North West London 

Twitter: @nishbedi

 

Article of the Week: Preoperative JJ stent placement to treat ureteric and renal stones

Every Week the Editor-in-Chief selects an 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.

Finally, the third post under the Article of the Week heading on the homepage will consist of additional material or media. This week we feature a video from Dr. Marianne Schmid and Dr. Atiqullah Aziz, discussing their Editorial.

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

Preoperative JJ stent placement in ureteric and renal stone treatment: results from the Clinical Research Office of Endourological Society (CROES) ureteroscopy (URS) Global Study

Dean Assimos, Alfonso Crisci*, Daniel Culkin, Wei Xue, Anita Roelofs§, Mordechai Duvdevani, Mahesh Desai** and Jean de la Rosette†† on behalf of the CROES URS Global Study Group

 

Department of Urology, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, Birmingham, AL, USA, *Department of Urology, Careggi Hospital, Florence, Italy, Department of Urology, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA, Department of Urology, Renji Hospital, Shanghai, China, §Department of Urology, Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem, The Netherlands, ††Department of Urology, AMC University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Department of Urology, Hadassah Ein-Kerem University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel, and **Department of Urology, Muljibhai Patel Urological Hospital, Nadiad, India

 

Objective

To compare outcomes of ureteric and renal stone treatment with ureteroscopy (URS) in patients with or without the placement of a preoperative JJ stent.

Patients and Methods

The Clinical Research Office of the Endourological Society (CROES) URS Global Study collected prospective data for 1 year on consecutive patients with ureteric or renal stones treated with URS at 114 centres around the world. Patients that had had preoperative JJ stent placement were compared with those that did not. Inverse-probability-weighted regression adjustment (IPWRA) was used to examine the effect of preoperative JJ stent placement on the stone-free rate (SFR), length of hospital stay (LOHS), operative duration, and complications (rate and severity).

Results

Of 8 189 patients with ureteric stones, there were 978 (11.9%) and 7 133 patients with and without a preoperative JJ stent, respectively. Of the 1 622 patients with renal stones, 590 (36.4%) had preoperative stenting and 1 002 did not. For renal stone treatment, preoperative stent placement increased the SFR and operative time, and there was a borderline significant decrease in intraoperative complications. For ureteric stone treatment, preoperative stent placement was associated with longer operative duration and decreased LOHS, but there was no difference in the SFR and complications. One major limitation of the study was that the reason for JJ stent placement was not identified preoperatively.

AprAOTW5

Conclusions

The placement of a preoperative JJ stent increases SFRs and decreases complications in patients with renal stones but not in those with ureteric stones.

Editorial: Some like it safe

Since the implementation of ureteroscopy (URS) about 100 years ago, technological as well as peri-operative management improvements have made URS the treatment of choice for ureteric and renal stones. Depending on stone location and size, stone-free rates of up to 100% have been reported in combination with low peri-operative complications and short hospital stay. Endoscopic therapy of stone disease, e.g. (primary) URS, reflects the zeitgeist: minimally invasive, fast, efficient and economic. There is, however, still a lack of consensus on the question of preoperative stenting in stone management strategies. The underlying aim of preoperative stenting is to cause passive dilation of the ureter, allowing easier access to the upper urinary tract during a secondary URS.

In the current issue of the BJUI, Assimos et al. [1] report higher stone-free rates, as well as fewer complications, with the use of a JJ stent before URS in patients with renal stones, and their article, therefore, supports the previously reported findings of retrospective series with observational, multicentre evidence [2]. Their findings do not, however, corroborate improved outcomes for prestented patients with ureteric stones [1]. Notably, more stents overall were placed in the presence of renal stones compared with ureteric stones (36.4 vs 11.9%). Primary URS may not always be feasible because of anatomical abnormalities, a narrow ureteric lumen, complex ureteric path or previous instrumentation [3]. In such cases, further manipulation risking trauma and potentially long-term stricture formation should be avoided and ureteric stent placement is necessary before further therapy. Indeed, it is possible that renal stone treatment may be associated with increased ureteric manipulation; therefore, passive ureteric dilation might be helpful and facilitate endocopic access to the renal pelvis. A direct elective prestenting in these patients followed by a secondary URS, therefore, warrants discussion. Although prestenting is an additional procedure, it has the potential to lower healthcare costs by decreasing complications rates, operating time and re-operation rates, especially for large proximal stones [4].

Routine preoperative stenting is not necessarily recommended by current guidelines [5]; however, the management of pre-URS stent placement is left to institutional and international practice patterns. Indeed, as shown in Figs 1 and 2 of the present paper [1], the incidence of preoperative JJ stenting varied tremendously by country. Whereas the large majority of patients with ureteric (88.1%) as well as renal (63.6%) stones were treated without a stent, in Germany, for example, >50% of patients were stented before URS. Also in China, Chile, Egypt and Israel, a higher percentage of patients with ureteric stones primarily received a JJ stent.

The use of stents is known to cause discomfort, pain and urinary symptoms, and therefore can represent significant health problems for the patient. These negatively affect daily activities, work capacity and quality of life [6]. Other disadvantages of a stenting may be higher costs associated with the need for interval procedure(s) and additional hospital stay(s). In addition, as recently reported, preoperative ureteric stent placement was not an independent predictor of stone-free status after flexible URS for renal stone removal [7].

Although there is no consensus or definite recommendation for pre-URS stenting, it should be considered and discussed with the patient when obtaining preoperative consent, especially for purely elective, non-urgent cases and in the presence of renal stones.

Long-term outcomes will show whether or not pre-URS stenting makes a difference with regard to the formation of ureteric strictures. Finally, surgical strategies need to weigh carefully the benefits to the patients and improved outcomes against cost-effectiveness.

Atiqullah Aziz, and Marianne Schmid
Department of Urology, University Medical Centre Hamburg- Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany

 

References

 

 

 

3 Cetti RJ, Biers S, Keoghane SR. The difcult ureter: what is the incidence of pre-stenting? Ann R Coll Surg Engl 2011; 93: 313

 

4 Chu L, Farris CA, Corcoran AT, Averch TD. Preoperative stent placement decreases cost of ureteroscopy. Urology 2011; 78: 30913 

 

5 Turk C, Petřík A, Sarica K et al. EAU guidelines on interventional treatment for urolithiasis. Eur Urol 2015; doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2015. 07.041. [Epub ahead of print]

 

6 Joshi HB, Newns N, Stainthorpe A, MacDonagh RP, Keeley FX JrTimoney AG. Ureteral stent symptom questionnaire: development and validation of a multidimensional quality of life measure. J Urol 2003; 169: 10604

 

 

Video: Some like it safe

Preoperative JJ stent placement in ureteric and renal stone treatment: results from the Clinical Research Office of Endourological Society (CROES) ureteroscopy (URS) Global Study

Dean Assimos, Alfonso Crisci*, Daniel Culkin, Wei Xue, Anita Roelofs§, Mordechai Duvdevani, Mahesh Desai** and Jean de la Rosette†† on behalf of the CROES URS Global Study Group

 

Department of Urology, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, Birmingham, AL, USA, *Department of Urology, Careggi Hospital, Florence, Italy, Department of Urology, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA, Department of Urology, Renji Hospital, Shanghai, China, §Department of Urology, Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem, The Netherlands, ††Department of Urology, AMC University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Department of Urology, Hadassah Ein-Kerem University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel, and **Department of Urology, Muljibhai Patel Urological Hospital, Nadiad, India

 

Objective

To compare outcomes of ureteric and renal stone treatment with ureteroscopy (URS) in patients with or without the placement of a preoperative JJ stent.

Patients and Methods

The Clinical Research Office of the Endourological Society (CROES) URS Global Study collected prospective data for 1 year on consecutive patients with ureteric or renal stones treated with URS at 114 centres around the world. Patients that had had preoperative JJ stent placement were compared with those that did not. Inverse-probability-weighted regression adjustment (IPWRA) was used to examine the effect of preoperative JJ stent placement on the stone-free rate (SFR), length of hospital stay (LOHS), operative duration, and complications (rate and severity).

Results

Of 8 189 patients with ureteric stones, there were 978 (11.9%) and 7 133 patients with and without a preoperative JJ stent, respectively. Of the 1 622 patients with renal stones, 590 (36.4%) had preoperative stenting and 1 002 did not. For renal stone treatment, preoperative stent placement increased the SFR and operative time, and there was a borderline significant decrease in intraoperative complications. For ureteric stone treatment, preoperative stent placement was associated with longer operative duration and decreased LOHS, but there was no difference in the SFR and complications. One major limitation of the study was that the reason for JJ stent placement was not identified preoperatively.

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Conclusions

The placement of a preoperative JJ stent increases SFRs and decreases complications in patients with renal stones but not in those with ureteric stones.

Highlights from #BAUS15

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#BAUS15 started to gain momentum from as early as the 26th June 2014 and by the time we entered the Manchester Central Convention Complex well over 100 tweets had been made. Of course it wasn’t just Twitter that started early with a group of keen urologists cycling 210 miles to conference in order to raise money for The Urology Foundation.

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Monday 15th June 2015

By the time the cyclists arrived conference was well under way with the andrology, FNUU and academic section meetings taking place on Monday morning:

  • The BJU International Prize for the Best Academic Paper was awarded to Richard Bryant from the University of Oxford for his work on epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition changes found within the extraprostatic extension component of locally invasive prostate cancers.
  • Donna Daly from the University of Sheffield received the BJUI John Blandy prize for her work on Botox, demonstrating reductions in afferent bladder signaling and urothelial ATP release.

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  • Professor Reisman’s talk on ‘Porn, Paint and Piercing’ as expected drew in the crowds and due to a staggering 44% complication rate with genital piercings it is important for us to try to manage these without necessarily removing the offending article as this will only serve to prevent those in need from seeking medical attention.
  • With the worsening worldwide catastrophe of antibiotic resistance, the cycling of antibiotics for prevention of recurrent UTIs is no longer recommended. Instead, Tharani Nitkunan provided convincing evidence for the use of probiotics and D-Mannose.

The afternoon was dominated by the joint oncology and academic session with Professor Noel Clarke presenting the current data from the STAMPEDE trial. Zolendronic acid conferred no survival benefit over hormones alone and consequently has been removed from the trial (stampede 1). However, Docetaxal plus hormones has shown benefit, demonstrated significantly in M1 patients with disease-free survival of 65 months vs. 43 months on hormones alone (Hazard ratio 0.73) (stampede 2). This means that the control arm of M1 patients who are fit for chemotherapy will now need to be started on this treatment as the trial continues to recruit in enzalutamide, abiraterone and metformin arms.

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The evening was rounded off with the annual BAUS football tournament won this year by team Manchester (obviously a rigged competition!), whilst some donned the

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lycra and set out for a competition at the National Cycle Centre. For those of us not quite so energetic, it was fantastic to catch up with old friends at the welcome drinks reception.

 

Tuesday 16th June 2015

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Tuesday kicked off bright and early with Professor John Kelly presenting results from the BOXIT clinical trial, which has shown some benefit over standard treatment of non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, but with significant cardiovascular toxicity.

The new NICE bladder cancer guidelines were presented with concerns voiced by Professor Marek Babjuk over discharging low-risk bladder cancer at 12 months given a quoted 30-50% five-year recurrence risk. Accurate risk stratification, it would seem, is going to be key.

The President’s address followed along with the presentation of the St. Peter’s medal for notable contribution to the advancement of urology, which was presented to Pat Malone from Southampton General Hospital. Other medal winners included Adrian Joyce who received the BAUS Gold Medal, and the St. Paul’s medal went to Mark Soloway.

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A plethora of other sessions ensued but with the help of the new ‘native’ BAUS app my programme was already conveniently arranged in advance:

  •     ‘Heartsink Conditions’ included pelvic and testicular pain and a fascinating talk by Dr Gareth Greenslade highlighted the importance of early and motivational referral to pain management services once no cause has been established and our treatments have been exhausted. The patient’s recovery will only start once we have said no to further tests: ‘Fix the thinking’
  • Poster sessions are now presented as ‘e-posters’, abolishing the need to fiddle with those little pieces of Velcro and allowing for an interactive review of the posters.

 

Photo 22-06-2015 22 36 07Pravisha Ravindra from Nottingham demonstrated that compliance with periodic imaging of patients with asymptomatic small renal calculi (n=147) in primary care is poor, and indeed, these patients may be better managed with symptomatic imaging and re-referral as no patients required intervention based on radiograph changes alone.

Archana Fernando from Guy’s presented a prospective study demonstrating the value of CTPET in the diagnosis of malignancy in  patients with retroperitoneal fibrosis (n=35), as well as demonstrating that those with positive PET are twice as likely to respond to steroids.

 

Wednesday 17th June 2015

Another new addition to the programme this year was the Section of Endourology ‘as live surgery’ sessions. This was extremely well received and allowed delegates to benefit from observing operating sessions from experts in the field whilst removing the stressful environment and potential for risk to patient associated with live surgery. This also meant that the surgeon was present in the room to answer questions and talk through various steps of the operation allowing for a truly interactive session.
Wednesday saw multiple international speakers dominating the Exchange Auditorium:

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  • The BJU International guest lecture was given by Professor Hendrik Van Poppel: a heartfelt presentation describing what he believes to be the superiority of surgery over radiotherapy for high-risk localised prostate cancer.
  • The Urology Foundation presented the Research Scholar Medal to Ashwin Sachdeva from Freeman Hospital, Newcastle for his work on the ‘Role of mitochondrial DNA mutations in prostate carcinogenesis’. This was followed by an inspiring guest lecture by Inderbir Gill on ‘Robotic Urologic Oncology: the best is yet to come’ with the tag line ‘the only thing that should be open in 2015 is our minds’
  • Robotic Surgery in UK Urology: Clinical & Commissioning Priorities was a real highlight in the programme with talks from Jim Adshead and Professor Jens-Uwe Stolzenburg focussing on the fact that only 40% of T1a tumours in the UK were treated with partial (as opposed to radical) nephrectomy, and that the robot really is the ‘game-changer’ for this procedure. Inderbir Gill again took to the stage to stress that all current randomised trials into open vs. robotic cystectomy have used extracorporeal reconstruction and so do not reflect the true benefits of the robotic procedure as the dominant driver of complications is in the open reconstruction.

These lectures were heard by James Palmer, Clinical Director of Specialised Commissioning for NHS England who then discussed difficulties in making decisions to provide new technologies, controlling roll out and removing them if they show no benefit. Clinical commissioning policies are currently being drafted for robotic surgery in kidney and bladder cancer. This led to a lively debate with Professor Alan McNeill having the last word as he pointed out that what urologists spend on the robot to potentially cure cancer is a drop in the ocean compared with what the oncologists spend to palliate!

 

Thursday 18th June 2015

The BJU International session on evidence-based urology highlighted the need for high-quality evidence, especially in convincing commissioners to spend in a cash-strapped NHS. Professor Philipp Dahm presented a recent review in the Journal of Urology indicated that the quality of systematic reviews in four major urological journals was sub-standard. Assistant Professor Alessandro Volpe then reviewed the current evidence behind partial nephrectomy and different approaches to this procedure.

Another fantastic technology, which BAUS adopted this year, was the BOD-POD which allowed delegates to catch-up on sessions in the two main auditoria that they may have missed due to perhaps being in one of the 21 well designed teaching courses that were available this year. Many of these will soon be live on the BAUS website for members to view.

The IBUS and BAUS joint session included a lecture from Manoj Monga from The Cleveland Clinic, which led to the question being posed on Twitter: ‘Are you a duster or a basketer?’The audience was also advised to always stent a patient after using an access sheath unless the patient was pre-stented.

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The updates session is always valuable especially for those studying for the FRCS (Urol) exam with far too many headlines to completely cover:

  • Endourology: The SUSPEND trial published earlier this year was a large multi-centre RCT that showed no difference in terms of rates of spontaneous passage of ureteric stone, time to stone passage or analgesic use between placebo, tamsulosin and nifedipine. There was a hot debate on this: should we be waiting for the meta-analysis or should a trial of this size and design be enough to change practice?
  • Oncology-Prostate: The Klotz et al., paper showed active surveillance can avoid over treatment, with 98% prostate cancer survival at 10 years.
  • Oncology-Kidney: Ellimah Mensah’s team from Imperial College London (presented at BAUS earlier in the week) demonstrated that over a 14-year period there were a higher number of cardiovascular-related admissions to hospital in patients who have had T1 renal tumours resected than the general population, but no difference between those who have had partial or radical nephrectomy.
  • Oncology-Bladder: Arends’s team presented at EAU in March on the favourable results of hyperthermic mitomycin C vs. BCG in the treatment of intermediate- and high-risk bladder cancer.
  • Female and BPH: The BESIDE study has demonstrated increased efficacy with combination solifenacin and mirabegron.
  • Andrology: Currently recruiting in the UK is the MASTER RCT to evaluate synthetic sling vs. artificial sphincter in men with post-prostatectomy urinary incontinence.

 

Overall BAUS yet again put on a varied and enjoyable meeting. The atmosphere was fantastic and the organisers should be proud of the new additions in terms of allowing delegates to engage with new technologies, making for a memorable week. See you all in Liverpool!

 

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Rebecca Tregunna, Urological Trainee, West Midlands Deanery @rebeccatregunna

 

Dominic Hodgson, Consultant Urologist, Portsmouth @hodgson_dominic

 

Guideline of guidelines: kidney stones

GOG-KS

Abstract

Several professional organizations have developed evidence-based guidelines for the initial evaluation, diagnostic imaging selection, symptomatic management, surgical treatment, medical therapy, and prevention of recurrence for both ureteric and renal stones. The purpose of this article is to summarize these guidelines with reference to the strength of evidence. All guidelines endorse an initial evaluation to exclude concomitant infection, imaging with a non-contrast computed tomography scan, and consideration of medical expulsive therapy or surgical intervention depending on stone size and location. Recommends for metabolic evaluation vary by guideline, but all endorse increasing fluid intake to reduce the risk of recurrence.
GOG-KS key points

The Drugs Don’t Work

1212For those pop enthusiasts amongst you, “The drugs don’t work” – the year was 1997; The band: The Verve. Secret of Premium Supplements for Lean Muscle In the quest to reinforce body physique, many of us do exactly about anything to enhance how they appear . From taking lean muscle supplements, dieting to workouts / exercise, there are indeed some ways to urge a complete body transformation. However, one method that’s becoming increasingly popular is that the use of legal steroids and helping those looking the way to gain weight fast, with absolute safest and therefore the best performance enhancements. These sorts of premium lean muscle supplements have given numerous athletes, weightlifters and most short-time users the choices of dumping dangerous drugs, and changing their physical form, such a lot in order that users are experiencing amazing body transformation – without side effects. Many companies make these premium supplements to create muscle, but some brands are more reliable than others… For example, Crazy Bulk happens to be one among the more trusted companies. So, what are you able to expect from this brand and therefore the muscle building supplements that they provide? Well, the simplest thanks to get a solution to the present question is by reading about experiences people have had when using these supplements. With that in mind, here’s a testimonial from one among the various users of Crazy Bulk steroid alternatives. You’ll also get to ascertain before and after photos along side an in depth account of the user’s progress and results. For getting information about muscle supplements, read this news.

Many people spend countless hours at home or at the gym exercising exercising EXERCISING. All for the hope of achieving that coveted well muscled body. That’s all good and great, but there is a little bit more to building a well defined, great looking, well muscled body. Well… at least for MOST people it is. Read on and I will show you a few “tricks of the trade”.

Really, there are THREE main concepts to keep in mind if you’re looking to build muscles. Of course the first one is YOU have to go do it! NO ONE ELSE can do it for you. It’s not as much work as some might tend to believe. After all… Good things happen with hard work.

Second… Repetition. To build muscles you need to do repetitive exercises. Repeat any exercise 9 times. If that becomes to easy up the repetition to 18. The 27. And so on, and so on. Also don’t forget about increasing the resistance before you increase your repetition.

It is also VERY important to remember to give your body a day to “heal”. That is really when the muscles are “growing” or “building”. For example, workout on Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. Then rest (Don’t exercise) on Day 4. Then exercise again on Day 5 Day 6 and Day 7. then rest on Day 8. Repeat… That is how rock hard muscles are formed.

Third… Supplements. Working an adult body to a point that it needs to grow new tissue is strenuous on the system. Building muscles ensues building new cells. That’s where taking the right kind of supplements come into play. They help feed the blood steam to feed the starved cells so they can reproduce new cells FASTER. And with a lot less pain and sore muscles. That is very important. Almost as important as the second concept. But not just any supplements. You need to get the RIGHT supplements.

For those more urologically minded, you will immediately be thinking of the recent publication in the Lancet reporting on the use of tamsulosin and nifedipine vs. placebo for the medical expulsive therapy (MET) of ureteric stones. Current national (BAUS) and international (EAU guidelines) recommend the use of MET, usually with an alpha blocker – and often tamsulosin, and it has certainly become common practice in most Emergency and urology departments certainly across the UK and likely worldwide.

There have however always been doubts regarding the use of these with many small heterogenous studies with variable inclusion/exclusion criteria, various blinding protocols and suspicion of publication bias when only positive trials get published. Regardless, the clear outcome from the Hollingsworth meta-analysis was that both alpha blockers and calcium channel blockers are effective for helping stone passage and so they crept into routine clinical use. This trial should change all of that with headline results:

  • No change in spontaneous stone passage at 4 weeks for either drug vs. placebo or compared against each other
  • No difference when analysed by stone size or location
  • No difference in analgesic use or time to stone passage

Aren’t those all the reasons we prescribe them? The first question of course is whether this trial is accurate. It certainly is a large trial with 1167 patients, randomised to the three double-blind arms in 24 centres in the UK. The trial (like many modern studies) is described as pragmatic. This has pros and cons. The advantages are that it replicates real life clinical practice allowing for variations in decision making (e.g. follow-up imaging in this paper) thus making it generally applicable. The downside of course is the lack of precision that this can introduce with stone passage possibly being only patient reported, or based on ultrasound, plain x-ray, IVU or CT. I guess we have to decide which type of trial we prefer, although it would be very difficult to mandate CT follow-up, with concerns about radiation safety, in this trial if that isn’t part of routine practice. Thus maybe this study is actually applicable to the vast amount of units around the world.

Secondly did it include the right type of patient? Well the current guidelines suggest using MET for any stone measuring up to 1cm in any part of the ureter … and that is what this trial did. And this is thus a strength given that it didn’t just focus on the distal ureter. Thus the trial population seems reasonable. One possibility is that if MET only works in the distal ureter (as almost all the studies only look at this), this could this explain the negative findings. Sub-group analysis of this based on location or stone size seems to suggest not unless it was underpowered to show a difference for this cohort of patients.

Whilst the odds ratios (see table) seem clear, the Forest plot shows the breakdown of subgroup by sex, stone size and location. Whilst not statistically significant, this does suggest a trend towards favouring MET for lower ureteric stones.

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Thirdly, is it possible this trial is wrong … a type II error ? Well of course anything is possible, and the trial may be criticised for the follow-up mentioned above. However it does seem to provide easily the best evidence to date. Thus why has the use of MET been allowed to become routine practice based on a number of small trials all introducing inherent bias which is then amplified when a meta-analysis is performed. I guess it was the best evidence around at the time although it makes you wonder how many other interventions there are that we currently use that are based on smallish trials, and would they actually stand up to the rigour of a well conducted big multicentre trial?

My last question is will this change practice again? Well it should, but with no alternative (except time, fluids and NSAID’s) to offer patients with ureteric stones and given that alpha blockers are usually well-tolerated, I wonder whether people will continue to prescribe MET for the foreseeable future. But if we believe in evidence based medicine, and we do, then surely we should no longer prescribe MET for ureteric stones which after all is an off-licence indication.

Finally congratulations must go to the NIHR and the research team for answering a very important clinical question. Was the whole ‘MET’ story a placebo effect all along … or to quote another less well known song title from The Verve, was it “All in the mind”? The conclusion from this excellent study has to be yes.

Conflict of interest: Acted as PI for Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital for this trial recruiting patients although have no part of study design, data analysis or publication.

Matthew Bultitude

Consultant Urologist, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital

Associate Editor, BJUI

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