Laparoscopic vs robotic nephroureterectomy: Is it time to re-establish the standard? Evidence from a systematic review

To conduct a systematic review of comparative studies of laparoscopic nephroureterectomy (LNU), the standard management for upper urothelial tumours, and robot-assisted NU (RANU) that has emerged as a viable alternative.

MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library were searched according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines to identify all studies reporting on both LNU and RANU for upper urothelial tract tumours.

In all, 1630 patients were included, of which 838 underwent LNU and 792 RANU. Three studies reported on mean operative time and found it to be less in LNU, with two reporting this to be significant (RANU 298 vs LNU 251 min, P = 0.03; 306 vs 234 min, respectively, P < 0.001). Both studies reporting on median node count found this to be higher in the robotic groups: RANU 5.5 vs LNU 1.0 and RANU 21 vs LNU 11. Positive surgical margins (RANU 1.69% vs LNU 7.06%, P = 0.18), bladder recurrence (24.6% vs 36.89%, P = 0.09), and distant metastases (27.50% vs 17.50%, P = 0.29) were not significantly different between the two techniques. Disease-specific mortality did not differ between the two techniques (RANU 7.5% vs LNU 12.5%, P = 0.46), but postoperative mortality was reduced in RANU (0.14% vs 1.32%, P = 0.03). Overall complication rates were statistically lower in RANU, at 12.5% vs 18.8% (P < 0.001).

This review suggests these techniques are equivalent in terms of perioperative and oncological performance. Furthermore, there may be a lower overall complication rate, as well as postoperative mortality in the robotic group. Further research in the form of a randomised controlled trial is warranted.

Arab journal of urology. 2017 Jun 16*** epublish ***

Thomas Stonier, Nick Simson, Su-Min Lee, Ian Robertson, Tarik Amer, Bhaskar K Somani, Bhavan P Rai, Omar Aboumarzouk

Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow, Essex, UK., Weston General Hospital, Weston-Super-Mare, North Somerset, UK., St George's Hospital, Tooting, London, UK., Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Glasgow, UK., University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust, Southampton, Hampshire, UK., James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, UK.