National utilization trends of partial nephrectomy for renal cell carcinoma: a case of underutilization?

Urology. 2006 Feb;67(2):254-9. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2005.08.050. Epub 2006 Jan 25.


Objectives: Partial nephrectomy is perceived to be more technically demanding than radical nephrectomy; concurrently, the increasing incidence of small renal tumors has suggested a greater role for nephron-sparing techniques. From a quality-of-care perspective, the underuse of partial nephrectomy may represent suboptimal delivery of healthcare.

Methods: A total of 66,621 subjects undergoing radical and partial nephrectomy for kidney cancer between 1988 and 2002 were identified from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a nationally representative data set of hospital discharges. Adjusted models were developed to identify clinical factors and structural measures independently associated with the use of partial nephrectomy.

Results: Overall, 7.5% of patients treated underwent partial nephrectomy. The utilization rates for partial nephrectomy ranged from 0.21 cases per 100,000 U.S. residents in 1988 to 1.6 cases per 100,000 U.S. residents in 2002. The percentage of patients with renal cell carcinoma treated with partial nephrectomy has increased more than threefold during the study interval (3.7% in 1988 to 1990 compared with 12.3% in 2000 to 2002, P <0.0001 for trend). Patients treated at urban (odds ratio 1.1), teaching (odds ratio 1.3), and high nephrectomy volume (odds ratio 2.5) hospitals were more likely to undergo partial nephrectomy (each, P <0.01).

Conclusions: The national use of partial nephrectomy has increased but remains lower than expected in certain settings, suggesting underuse or selective referral. Subjects with kidney cancer are more likely to be treated with partial nephrectomy at teaching institutions with high surgical volumes. The practice patterns of physicians at institutions more commonly using partial nephrectomy may reflect a better quality of care, although additional work in delineating the disparate utilization rates is warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrectomy / methods
  • Nephrectomy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nephrectomy / trends
  • United States