Surgical Complications in Postchemotherapy Retroperitoneal Lymph Node Dissection for Nonseminoma Germ Cell Tumour: A Population-based Study from the Swedish Norwegian Testicular Cancer Group

Eur Urol Oncol. 2020 Jun;3(3):382-389. doi: 10.1016/j.euo.2019.08.002. Epub 2019 Sep 8.


Background: Reports on perioperative complications after postchemotherapy retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (PC-RPLND) for nonseminoma germ cell tumour (NSGCT) are from experienced single centres, with a lack of population-based studies.

Objective: To assess the complications of bilateral and unilateral PC-RPLND.

Design, setting, and participants: A prospective, population-based, observational multicentre study included all patients with NSGCT who underwent PC-RPLND in Norway and Sweden during 2007-2014. Of a total of 318 patients, 87 underwent bilateral PC-RPLND and 231 underwent unilateral PC-RPLND. The median follow-up was 6 yr.

Outcome measurements and statistical analysis: Bilateral and unilateral PC-RPLND were compared for the outcomes of intra- and postoperative complications (graded by Clavien-Dindo) and retrograde ejaculation (with or without nerve-sparing surgery). Complications were reported as absolute counts and percentages. The χ2 test was used for comparisons.

Results and limitations: The incidence of intraoperative complications was higher for bilateral PC-RPLND than for unilateral PC-RPLND (14% vs 4.3%, p = 0.003), with ureteral injury as the most frequent reported complication (2% of the patients). Postoperative complications were more common after bilateral than after unilateral PC-RPLND (45% vs 25%, p = 0.001) with Clavien ≥3b reported in 8.3% and 2.2%, respectively (p = 0.009). Lymphatic leakage was the most common complication occurring in 11% of the patients. Retrograde ejaculation occurred more frequently after bilateral than after unilateral surgery (59% vs 32%, p < 0.001). Limitations of the study include reporting of retrograde ejaculation, which was based on a chart review.

Conclusions: Intra- and postoperative complications including retrograde ejaculation are more frequent after bilateral PC-RPLND than after unilateral PC-RPLND.

Patient summary: Lymph node dissection in patients with testicular cancer puts them at risk of complications. In this study, we present the complications after lymph node dissection.

Keywords: Complications; Nonseminoma; Postchemotherapy retroperitoneal lymph node dissection; Retrograde ejaculation; Testicular cancer.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Lymph Node Excision / methods*
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / surgery*
  • Norway
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retroperitoneal Space
  • Sweden
  • Testicular Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Testicular Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Young Adult

Supplementary concepts

  • Nonseminomatous germ cell tumor