Predictors of symptomatic lymphocele after radical prostatectomy and bilateral pelvic lymph node dissection

Int J Urol. 2011 Apr;18(4):291-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2042.2010.02710.x. Epub 2011 Feb 10.


Objectives: Lymphocele is the most common complication of pelvic lymphadenectomy (PLND). We sought to determine predictors of symptomatic lymphocele after radical prostatectomy (RP) and PLND, and in particular, to determine if the number of drains placed represents an independent predictor.

Methods: Between January 1999 and June 2007, 4173 consecutive patients underwent bilateral PLND at the time of either open or laparoscopic RP. Lymphoceles were identified in patients undergoing imaging as a result of symptoms suspicious for lymphocele, such as fever, abdominal pain or lower extremity swelling. Routine postoperative imaging was not carried out. Cox proportional hazards analysis was carried out using forced variable entry to obtain maximum likelihood estimates of the hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals using the number of drains placed, number of nodes removed, RP approach and use of prophylactic low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) as predictors of symptomatic lymphocele.

Results: There were 164 patients (4%) with a symptomatic lymphocele on follow up, with a median time to presentation of 19 days. The primary presenting complaints were fever in 47%, abdominal pain in 40%, lower extremity swelling in 37%, genital swelling in 25%, groin pain in 22%, abdominal swelling in 9%, and back and flank pain in 6% and 5%, respectively. Median lymphocele diameter was 5 cm. Significant predictors of symptomatic lymphocele on multivariate analysis included number of nodes removed and use of LMWH, but not number of drains placed.

Conclusions: Use of prophylactic LMWH and a higher node count are predictive of a higher incidence of symptomatic lymphocele after RP and PLND.

Keywords: lymphadenectomy; lymphocele; prostate cancer; prostatectomy; risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery*
  • Drainage
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision / adverse effects*
  • Lymph Node Excision / methods
  • Lymphocele / diagnosis
  • Lymphocele / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pelvis
  • Prognosis
  • Prostatectomy / adverse effects*
  • Prostatectomy / methods
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies