Bladder Recurrence Following Upper Tract Surgery for Urothelial Carcinoma: A Contemporary Review of Risk Factors and Management Strategies

Laura S. Mertens, Vidit Sharma, Surena F. Matin, Stephen A. Boorjian, R. Houston Thompson, Bas W. G. van Rhijn, Alexandra Masson-Lecomte

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Bladder recurrences have been reported in 22–47% of patients after surgery for upper urinary tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC). This collaborative review focuses on risk factors for and treatment strategies to reduce bladder recurrences after upper tract surgery for UTUC. Objective: To review the current evidence on risk factors and treatment strategies for intravesical recurrence (IVR) after upper tract surgery for UTUC. Evidence acquisition: This collaborative review is based on a literature search of PubMed/Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library, and currently available guidelines on UTUC. Relevant papers on bladder recurrence (etiology, risk factors, and management) after upper tract surgery were selected. Special attention has been paid to (1) the genetic background of bladder recurrences, (2) bladder recurrences after ureterorenoscopy (URS) with or without a biopsy, and (3) postoperative or adjuvant intravesical instillations. The literature search was performed in September 2022. Evidence synthesis: Recent evidence supports the hypothesis that bladder recurrences after upper tract surgery for UTUC are often clonally related. Clinicopathologic risk factors (patient, tumor, and treatment related) have been identified for bladder recurrences after UTUC diagnosis. Specifically, the use of diagnostic ureteroscopy before radical nephroureterectomy (RNU) is associated with an increased risk of bladder recurrences. Further, a recent retrospective study suggests that performing a biopsy during ureteroscopy may further worsen IVR (no URS: 15.0%; URS without biopsy: 18.4%; URS with biopsy: 21.9%). Meanwhile, a single postoperative instillation of intravesical chemotherapy has been shown to be associated with a reduced bladder recurrence risk after RNU compared with no instillation (hazard ratio 0.51, 95% confidence interval 0.32–0.82). Currently, there are no data on the value of a single postoperative intravesical instillation after ureteroscopy. Conclusions: Although based on limited retrospective data, performing URS seems to be associated with a higher risk of bladder recurrences. Future studies are warranted to assess the influence of other surgical factors as well as the role of URS biopsy or immediate postoperative intravesical chemotherapy after URS for UTUC. Patient summary: In this paper, we review recent findings on bladder recurrences after upper tract surgery for upper urinary tract urothelial carcinoma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-66
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean urology open science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


  • Bladder recurrence
  • Intravesical instillation
  • Nephroureterectomy
  • Upper tract
  • Ureterorenoscopy
  • Urothelial cancer

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