Unilateral Pelvic Lymph Node Dissection in Prostate Cancer Patients Diagnosed in the Era of Magnetic Resonance Imaging-targeted Biopsy: A Study That Challenges the Dogma

J Urol. 2023 Jul;210(1):117-127. doi: 10.1097/JU.0000000000003442. Epub 2023 Apr 13.


Purpose: Bilateral extended pelvic lymph node dissection at the time of radical prostatectomy is the current standard of care if pelvic lymph node dissection is indicated; often, however, pelvic lymph node dissection is performed in pN0 disease. With the more accurate staging achieved with magnetic resonance imaging-targeted biopsies for prostate cancer diagnosis, the indication for bilateral extended pelvic lymph node dissection may be revised. We aimed to assess the feasibility of unilateral extended pelvic lymph node dissection in the era of modern prostate cancer imaging.

Materials and methods: We analyzed a multi-institutional data set of men with cN0 disease diagnosed by magnetic resonance imaging-targeted biopsy who underwent prostatectomy and bilateral extended pelvic lymph node dissection. The outcome of the study was lymph node invasion contralateral to the prostatic lobe with worse disease features, ie, dominant lobe. Logistic regression to predict lymph node invasion contralateral to the dominant lobe was generated and internally validated.

Results: Overall, data from 2,253 patients were considered. Lymph node invasion was documented in 302 (13%) patients; 83 (4%) patients had lymph node invasion contralateral to the dominant prostatic lobe. A model including prostate-specific antigen, maximum diameter of the index lesion, seminal vesicle invasion on magnetic resonance imaging, International Society of Urological Pathology grade in the nondominant side, and percentage of positive cores in the nondominant side achieved an area under the curve of 84% after internal validation. With a cutoff of contralateral lymph node invasion of 1%, 602 (27%) contralateral pelvic lymph node dissections would be omitted with only 1 (1.2%) lymph node invasion missed.

Conclusions: Pelvic lymph node dissection could be omitted contralateral to the prostate lobe with worse disease features in selected patients. We propose a model that can help avoid contralateral pelvic lymph node dissection in almost one-third of cases.

Keywords: image-guided biopsy; lymph node excision; magnetic resonance imaging; prostatic neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision / methods
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Prostatectomy / methods
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / surgery