What is the role of cystoscopy and ureteroscopy in the workup of renal transitional cell carcinoma?

Updated: Nov 05, 2019
  • Author: Bagi RP Jana, MD, MBA, MHA, FACP; Chief Editor: E Jason Abel, MD  more...
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Cystoscopy may help to localize bleeding site (left or right) and rule out or confirm concomitant bladder lesions. Retrograde pyelography (RPG) is especially useful when the kidney cannot be visualized by means of IVU or when renal insufficiency or severe contrast allergy prevents the performance of IVU. A properly performed RPG is confirmatory in approximately 85% of cases (see the images below).

Retrograde pyelography. Filling defect can be seen Retrograde pyelography. Filling defect can be seen in left renal pelvis and lower calyx (black arrows). Patient underwent left nephroureterectomy. Tumor was low-grade urothelial carcinoma measuring 2.5 × 2 × 1 cm.
Right retrograde pyelogram demonstrates large fill Right retrograde pyelogram demonstrates large filling defect in midureter due to transitional cell carcinoma (large arrow). Note characteristic appearance of radiographic contrast material just distal to obstruction (small arrow), which gives rise to so-called goblet sign. Contrast is also visible beyond partially obstructed segment of ureter in renal pelvis and collecting system.

Ureteroscopy is routinely used in the diagnosis of renal pelvic tumors. The correct diagnosis can be achieved in 80-90% of cases. The gross appearance usually suffices for the diagnosis of upper urinary tract urothelial carcinoma (UC); however, a biopsy should be obtained if necessary.

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