Can frozen-section analysis of ureteric margins at the time of radical cystectomy predict upper tract recurrence?

Bladder Cancer

Arab J Urol. 2020 Apr 17;18(3):155-162. doi: 10.1080/2090598X.2020.1751923.


OBJECTIVE: To summarise the currently available literature and analyse available results of the outcome of intraoperative frozen-section analysis (FSA) on upper urinary tract recurrence (UUTR) after radical cystectomy (RC).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A systematic review of the literature was performed according to the Cochrane Reviews guidelines and in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) checklist. Articles discussing ureteric FSA with RC were identified.

RESULTS: The literature search yielded 21 studies, on which the present analysis was done. The studies were published between 1997 and 2019. There were 10 010 patients with an age range between 51 and 95 years. Involvement of the ureteric margins was noted in 2-9% at RC. The sensitivity and specificity of FSA were ~75% and 99%, respectively. Adverse pathology on FSA and on permanent section, prostatic urothelial carcinoma involving the stroma but not prostatic duct, and ureteric involvement on permanent section were all more likely to develop UUTR. Neither evidence of ureteric involvement nor ureteric margin status on permanent section were significant predictors of overall survival.

CONCLUSION: Routine FSA is mandatory for a tumour-free uretero-enteric anastomosis and is predictive of UUTR. To lower the UUTR, FSA is not necessary if the ureters are resected at the level where they cross the common iliac vessels. FSA is indicated whenever the surgeon encounters findings suspicious of malignancy, e.g. ureteric obstruction, periureteric fibrosis, diffuse carcinoma in situ, induration or frank tumour infiltration of the distal ureter is discovered unexpectedly during surgery, and prostatic urethral involvement.

ABBREVIATIONS: CIS: carcinoma in situ; FSA: frozen-section analysis; HR: hazard ratio; PRISMA: Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses; RC: radical cystectomy; (UT)UC: (upper tract) urothelial carcinoma; UUT(R): upper urinary tract (recurrence).