Contemporary surgical trends in the management of upper tract calculi

J Urol. 2015 Mar;193(3):880-4. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2014.09.006. Epub 2014 Sep 16.


Purpose: Upper tract nephrolithiasis is a common surgical condition that is treated with multiple surgical techniques, including shock wave lithotripsy, ureteroscopy and percutaneous nephrolithotomy. We analyzed case logs submitted to the ABU by candidates for initial certification and recertification to help elucidate the trends in management of upper tract urinary calculi.

Materials and methods: Annualized case logs from 2003 to 2012 were analyzed. We used logistic regression models to assess how surgeon specific attributes affected the way that upper tract stones were treated. Cases were identified by the CPT code of the corresponding procedure.

Results: A total of 6,620 urologists in 3 certification groups recorded case logs, including 2,275 for initial certification, 2,381 for first recertification and 1,964 for second recertification. A total of 441,162 procedures were logged, of which 54.2% were ureteroscopy, 41.3% were shock wave lithotripsy and 4.5% were percutaneous nephrolithotomy. From 2003 to 2013 there was an increase in ureteroscopy from 40.9% to 59.6% and a corresponding decrease in shock wave lithotripsy from 54% to 36.3%. For new urologists ureteroscopy increased from 47.6% to 70.9% of all stones cases logged and for senior clinicians ureteroscopy increased from 40% to 55%. Endourologists performed a significantly higher proportion of percutaneous nephrolithotomies than nonendourologists (10.6% vs 3.69%, p <0.0001) and a significantly smaller proportion of shock wave lithotripsies (34.2% vs 42.2%, p = 0.001).

Conclusions: Junior and senior clinicians showed a dramatic adoption of endoscopic techniques. Treatment of upper tract calculi is an evolving field and provider specific attributes affect how these stones are treated.

Keywords: lithotripsy; nephrostomy; percutaneous; physician's practice patterns; ureteroscopy; urolithiasis.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Disease Management
  • Humans
  • Kidney Calculi / surgery
  • Kidney Calculi / therapy*
  • Lithotripsy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrostomy, Percutaneous*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ureteral Calculi / surgery
  • Ureteral Calculi / therapy*
  • Ureteroscopy*