Contemporary surgical management of upper urinary tract calculi

J Urol. 2009 May;181(5):2152-6. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2009.01.023. Epub 2009 Mar 17.


Purpose: Upper urinary tract calculi are treated with multiple technologies including shock wave lithotripsy, ureteroscopy and percutaneous nephrolithotomy. Our knowledge of surgical practice patterns in the treatment of these calculi is limited. We performed a study of the surgical practice logs submitted to the American Board of Urology by candidates for initial certification and recertification to characterize the manner in which renal and ureteral calculi are treated.

Materials and methods: Logs from initial certification, first recertification and second recertification cohorts were reviewed. CPT codes were used as search criteria, and included 50590 (shock wave lithotripsy), 52352 (ureteroscopy, stone removal), 52353 (ureteroscopy, lithotripsy), 50080 (percutaneous nephrolithotomy for stones less than 2 cm) and 50081 (percutaneous nephrolithotomy for stones greater than 2 cm).

Results: For the initial certification cohort surgical logs from 2004 to 2008 were reviewed and 1,065 individuals were identified. For the 2 recertification cohorts logs from 2003 to 2007 were reviewed, with 1,120 individuals identified in the first recertification cohort, and 831 identified in the second recertification cohort. Candidates for initial certification used ureteroscopy in the majority of stone removal procedures (52.0%), and candidates for first and second recertification used shock wave lithotripsy in the majority of their procedures (57.4% and 60.5%, respectively). There was a decreasing use of percutaneous nephrolithotomy across the cohorts with 6.8% in the initial, 4.5% in the first and 2.6% in the second recertification cohort.

Conclusions: Provider specific attributes may affect how upper tract calculi are treated. Urologists in the initial certification cohort claimed the greatest use of endoscopic treatment modalities and most commonly performed ureteroscopy. Shock wave lithotripsy was more commonly used by the 2 recertification cohorts, comprised of more senior urologists.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Lithotripsy / methods*
  • Lithotripsy / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Nephrolithiasis / diagnosis
  • Nephrolithiasis / surgery*
  • Nephrostomy, Percutaneous / methods*
  • Nephrostomy, Percutaneous / statistics & numerical data
  • Registries
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Ureteral Calculi / diagnosis
  • Ureteral Calculi / surgery*
  • Ureteroscopy / methods*
  • Ureteroscopy / statistics & numerical data
  • Urologic Surgical Procedures / standards
  • Urologic Surgical Procedures / trends