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Upper tract imaging after ureteroscopic holmium: YAG laser lithotripsy: when is it necessary?
Division of Urology, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
Dec  2003 (Vol.  10, Issue  6, Pages( 2062 - 2067)


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    Advances in ureteroscope design and refinements of ancillary instrumentation have resulted in an expanded role for ureteroscopy in the management of urinary calculi. Technological enhancements coupled with improved endourologic skills have also been associated with a reduction in procedural-related complications. Historically, postoperative imaging with ultrasound (U/S) or intravenous pyelogram (IVP) had been advocated to rule out persistent obstruction due to retained stone fragments or ureteral stricture. The purposes of this study were to evaluate the incidence of postoperative ureteral obstruction in a contemporary series of patients undergoing ureteroscopic holmium:YAG laser lithotripsy without basket extraction of fragments and to identify patient, stone and operative factors predictive of which patients will benefit from postoperative imaging.


    The charts and imaging studies of 89 consecutive patients undergoing a total of 94 holmium:YAG ureteroscopic lithotripsy procedures between December 1998 and December 2000 were retrospectively reviewed. Preoperative, intraoperative and postoperative data were collected and analyzed. The primary outcome measure was the incidence of postoperative ureteral obstruction documented on upper tract imaging. Secondary outcome measures included interventions required for postoperative obstruction and other nonobstructive postoperative complications.


    Twenty-eight females and 61 males were studied, with a mean patient age of 54 (range 13 - 80) years. Fifty-five percent of patients underwent related procedures prior to referral to our tertiary endourology centre. Complete clinical and radiological follow-up is available for 68 of 89 (76.4%) patients, with a mean follow-up duration of 24.2 weeks. Overall stone-free rate was 97%. Six patients had evidence of urinary tract obstruction on follow-up radiological assessment, two from residual stone fragments and four from ureteral stricture. Each of these four patients had at least one preoperative risk factor for ureteral stricture.


    Routine postoperative upper tract imaging is not necessary in all patients undergoing uncomplicated ureteroscopic holmium:YAG laser lithotripsy. Indications for upper tract imaging include chronic stone impaction, significant ureteral trauma, pre-existing renal function impairment, endoscopic evidence of stricture and postoperative flank pain or fever.