Objectives: This study compared the complications and the cancer control of elective nephron-sparing surgery (NSS) and radical nephrectomy (RN) in patients with a small (<or=5 cm), solitary, low-stage N0 M0 tumour suspicious for renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and a normal contralateral kidney.
Methods: 541 patients were randomised in a prospective, multicentre, phase 3 trial to undergo NSS (n=268) or RN (n=273) together with a limited lymph node dissection.
Results: This publication reports only on the complications reported for both surgical methods. The rate of perioperative blood loss<0.5l was slightly higher after RN (96.0% vs. 87.2%) and the rate of severe haemorrhage was slightly higher after NSS (3.1% vs. 1.2%). Ten patients (4.4%), all of whom were treated with NSS, developed urinary fistulas. Pleural damage (11.5% for NSS vs. 9.3% for RN) and spleen damage (0.4% for NSS and 0.4% for RN) were observed with similar rates in both groups. Postoperative computed tomography scanning abnormalities were seen in 5.8% of NSS and 2.0% of RN patients. Reoperation for complications was necessary in 4.4% of NSS and 2.4% of RN patients.
Conclusions: NSS for small, easily resectable, incidentally discovered RCC in the presence of a normal contralateral kidney can be performed safely with slightly higher complication rates than after RN. The oncologic results are eagerly awaited to confirm that NSS is an acceptable approach for small asymptomatic RCC.