Renal cell carcinoma with inferior vena caval thrombus remains a complex challenge for the urologist. Aggressive surgery to remove all tumor can result in long-term survival. Liver transplant techniques, assistance from cardiac surgeons and bypass techniques can yield optimal vascular control but there is still a blind element inside the inferior vena cava when the thrombus is evacuated. We present data on a technique using a flexible cystoscope to evaluate the lumen of the intrahepatic and suprahepatic inferior vena cava after nephrectomy and tumor thrombectomy.Materials and Methods
Seven patients underwent radical nephrectomy and tumor thrombectomy for renal cell carcinoma with inferior vena caval thrombus. During surgery and after removal of the tumor thrombus a flexible cystoscope was inserted into the venacavotomy for direct inspection of the inferior vena caval lumen. Any residual tumor was manipulated out of the lumen and removed. Patient records were reviewed for data on the time of this procedure, estimated blood loss, residual tumor, postoperative complications and survival.Results
Venacavoscopy required an average additional 5.6 minutes and residual tumor was found in 3 of 7 patients. Average estimated blood loss was 1,170 cc and it was not affected by venacavoscopy. One patient experienced acalculous cholecystitis, possibly as a result of this procedure. Mean followup was 17.6 months with 5 of 7 patients alive.Conclusions
Venacavoscopy is a safe, reliable method of intraoperative inspection of the inferior vena cava that uses equipment and techniques familiar to every urologist. This can help prevent incomplete thrombectomy and disastrous pulmonary embolus.