Management and treatment options when facing malignant ureteral obstruction

Int J Urol. 2020 Jul;27(7):591-598. doi: 10.1111/iju.14235. Epub 2020 Apr 6.


Malignant ureteral obstruction is an unfortunate finding that can be caused by a wide-ranging number of malignancies with a prognosis of limited survival. Given its presentation and progression, it can be refractory to treatment by traditional single polymeric ureteral stents. With a higher failure rate than causes of benign ureteral obstruction, a number of other options are available for initial management, as well as in cases of first-line therapy failure, including tandem stents, metallic stents, percutaneous nephrostomies and extra-anatomic stents. We reviewed the literature and carried out a PubMed search including the following keywords and phrases: "malignant ureteral obstruction," "tandem ureteral stents," "metallic ureteral stents," "resonance stent," "metal mesh ureteral stents" and "extra-anatomic stents." The vast majority of studies were small and retrospective, with a large number of studies related to metallic stents. Given the heterogenous patient population and diversity of practice, it is difficult to truly assess the efficacy of each method. As there are no guidelines or major head-to-head prospective trials involving these techniques, it makes practicing up to the specific provider. However, this article attempts to provide a framework with which the urologist who is presented with malignant ureteral obstruction can plan in order to provide the individualized care on a case-by-case basis. What is clear is that prospective, randomized clinical trials are necessary to help bring evidence-based medicine and guidelines for patients with malignant ureteral obstruction.

Keywords: extra-anatomic stents; malignant ureteral obstruction; metal stents; percutaneous nephrostomy; tandem stents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stents
  • Ureter*
  • Ureteral Obstruction* / etiology
  • Ureteral Obstruction* / therapy