The incidence and sequela of lymphocele formation after robot-assisted extended pelvic lymph node dissection

BJU Int. 2016 Jul;118(1):127-31. doi: 10.1111/bju.13425. Epub 2016 Feb 17.


Objective: To determine an accurate incidence of lymphocele formation and its sequela after robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP) and extended lymph node dissection (eLND) in a contemporary prostate cancer cohort.

Patients and method: Consecutive patients who underwent RARP and eLND and had a minimum follow-up of 3 months were included. All surgeries were performed by one surgeon via a transperitoneal approach, with patients uniformly receiving low-molecular-weight heparin. Patients were followed with serial ultrasonography (US) based on a predetermined schedule for lymphocele surveillance. Incidence and sequelae of lymphoceles were retrospectively assessed.

Results: In all, 521 patients were analysed. The mean (sd) follow-up was 33.5 (22.8) months. Lymphocele developed in 9% and became symptomatic in 2.5%. All except one were detected at the 1-month postoperative US; however, 76% regressed by the 3-month US. If lymphocele persisted at 3 months, 64% developed symptoms associated with infection and required drainage. Having diabetes mellitus was significantly associated with a higher risk of developing an infected lymphocele. Other symptoms related to lymphocele were rare. Comparisons of patient characteristics between patients with and without lymphoceles did not show any significant prognostic indicators to predict the occurrence of lymphocele in neither univariate nor multivariate analysis in the present cohort.

Conclusion: The incidence of symptomatic lymphocele after transperitoneal RARP and eLND is rare. However, during follow-up, US imaging at 3 months after surgery appears advisable. If a lymphocele is detected at the 3-month follow-up US discussing percutaneous external drainage with the patient appears to be wise, as it may prevent the development of a symptomatic lymphocele in two-thirds of such patients.

Keywords: cancer; lymphocele; prostate; robot.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lymph Node Excision / adverse effects*
  • Lymph Node Excision / methods*
  • Lymphocele / epidemiology*
  • Lymphocele / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostatectomy / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*