The success of combination chemotherapy in treating advanced metastatic germ cell tumors has led to new challenges for the genitourinary oncologic surgeon in the peri-operative care of patients. Surgery remains an integral part of the management of patients with advanced germ cell tumors. Retroperitoneal node dissections following chemotherapy or radiation, or both, are technically more demanding and subject to higher rates of peri-operative complications. Overall post-therapy surgical complication rates range from 33% to 75%, with the highest rates among patients who receive both radiation and chemotherapy. Although most patients with testicular cancer are young and healthy, residual pulmonary, renal, vascular, and neurologic toxicities from chemotherapy can increase the risk of peri-operative complications. In addition, the volume and location of tumor can increase the technical demands, especially when there is a tremendous soft tissue reaction to the chemotherapy. Identification of pre-operative risk factors for peri-operative complications is imperative and the first step in pre-operative planning. Pulmonary toxicity and vascular (cardiac or peripheral) events are the two most immediately life-threatening complications that can occur in the peri-operative period. Due to the high incidence of subclinical pulmonary toxicity, one must consider all patients who have received bleomycin pre-operatively at risk to develop postoperative pulmonary problems. Pre-operative evaluation and judicious fluid management have been shown to reduce the risk of life-threatening respiratory complications in the postoperative period.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.