Pushing the boundaries of ureteroscopy: current status and future perspectives

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Abstract

Substantial advances in ureteroscopy have resulted in the incorporation of this procedure into routine urological practice in many centres worldwide. Subsequently, an abundance of clinical data and technological progression have enabled the development of novel solutions that have increased the efficacy of ureteroscopy, and reduced associated morbidity and costs. In addition the indications for this retrograde approach have been expanded, and pyelocalyceal diverticulum, infundibular stenosis, urolithiasis in pregnant women or in patients with urinary diversions, as well as upper urinary tract tumours can now be managed using this methodology. New endoscopes are continuously developed, with different manufacturers choosing various technical solutions to further increase the efficacy and safety—and sometimes decrease costs—of ureteroscopy, including miniaturization, inclusion of digital optical systems and dual working channels, and the introduction of disposable apparatus. The holmium laser, currently the most-versatile energy source available, enables tissue incision, tumour ablation, and intracorporeal lithotripsy. Modern ancillary instruments are diverse, flexible, and durable, and novel devices used in daily clinical practice can minimize ascendant migration of stone fragments and, therefore, decrease the failure rate of the retrograde ureteroscopic approach. However, the peak of ureteroscopy evolution seems to remain distant, with further improvement of endoscopes and ancillary instruments, and robot-assisted ureteroscopy representing only some of the areas in which future developments are possible.

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