Renal cell carcinoma with tumor thrombus: Is cytoreductive nephrectomy for advanced disease associated with an increased complication rate?

Amnon Zisman*, Allan J. Pantuck, Debby H. Chao, Jeff A. Wieder, Frederick Dorey, Jonathan W. Said, Jean B. De Kernion, Robert Figlin, Arie S. Belldegrun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: We examined whether cytoreductive nephrectomy in patients with venous tumor thrombus and metastatic disease is associated with more complications than in those with thrombus without metastatic disease. Materials and Methods: Between 1989 and 2000, 74 patients with renal vein extension, 87 with inferior vena caval extension and 491 without tumor thrombus underwent nephrectomy at our institution. Metastatic and nonmetastatic renal vein extension in 51 and 23 cases, inferior vena caval extension in 54 and 33, and nontumor thrombus in 171 and 320, respectively, were compared for symptoms at presentation, surgical data, mortality and complications. Results: For nonmetastatic and metastatic inferior vena caval extension presenting symptoms, hospital stay, surgical time and the number of patients undergoing thoraco-abdominal incision, lymph node dissection, venacavotomy alone for thrombus and adrenal sparing surgery were similar. Five patients with thrombus died intraoperatively or postoperatively, including 3.1% with and 0.8% without thrombus (p = 0.03), while 3 had metastatic (2.3%) and 2 (2.6%) had nonmetastatic disease. The rate of postoperative complications was higher in thrombus cases overall but there was no difference in nonmetastatic and metastatic disease with thrombus. On multivariate analysis inferior vena caval thrombus (odds ratio 10.5), adjacent organ resection due to locally advanced tumor (odds ratio 6), partial nephrectomy (odds ratio 3.8), regional lymph node involvement (odds ratio 1.7) and lower preoperative hemoglobin (odds ratio 1.6) were independent variables predicting bleeding requiring transfusion. Inferior vena caval thrombus (odds ratio 1.7) and adjacent organ resection (odds ratio 2) were also associated with nonhemorrhagic complications. Systemic metastasis was not an independent risk factor in either analysis. Conclusions: To our knowledge there are no published data comparing surgical complications in patients with metastatic and nonmetastatic renal cell carcinoma who have gross tumor thrombus. Cytoreductive surgery in patients with thrombus and metastasis is not associated with an increase in the extent of surgery, morbidity or mortality compared with their counterparts with nonmetastatic disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)962-967
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Carcinoma, renal cell
  • Kidney
  • Neoplasm metastasis
  • Nephrectomy
  • Vena cava, inferior


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