Robotic versus other nephroureterectomy techniques: a systematic review and meta-analysis of over 87,000 cases

  • Alessandro Veccia
  • Alessandro Antonelli
  • Simone Francavilla
  • Claudio Simeone
  • Georgi Guruli
  • Homayoun Zargar
  • Sisto Perdoná
  • Matteo Ferro
  • Giuseppe Carrieri
  • Lance J. Hampton
  • Francesco Porpiglia
  • Riccardo AutorinoEmail author
Topic Paper



To perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature inherent robotic nephroureterectomy (RNU) and to compare its outcomes with those of other nephroureterectomy (NU) techniques.


A systematic literature search was performed up to April 2019 using PubMed, Embase®, and Web of Science. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Statement was followed for study selection. The following data were extracted for each study: baseline features, surgical outcomes, oncological outcomes, and survival outcomes. Stata® 15.0 was used for statistical analysis.


Literature search identified 80 studies eligible for the meta-analysis and overall 87,291 patients were included in the analysis: open NU (ONU; n = 45,601), hand-assisted laparoscopic NU (HALNU; n = 442), laparoscopic NU (LNU n = 31,093), and RNU (n = 10,155). RNU was more likely to be performed in those patients with multifocal tumor location (proportion: 0.19; 95% CI 0.14, 0.24) and high-grade disease (proportion: 0.70; 95% CI 0.53, 0.68). The lowest EBL was recorded in the RNU group (weighted mean (WM) 163.31 mL; 95% CI 88.94, 237.68), whereas the highest was in the ONU group (414.99 mL; 95% CI 378.52, 451.46). Operative time was shorter for ONU (224.98 mL; 95% CI 212.26, 237.69). RNU had lower rate of intraoperative complications (0.02; 95% CI 0.01, 0.05). ONU showed higher odds of transfusions (0.20; 95% CI 0.15, 0.25). LOS was statistically significantly shorter for the RNU group (5.35 days; 95% CI 4.97, 5.82). HALNU seemed to present lower risk of PSM (0.02; 95% CI − 0.01, 0.05), and lower risk of recurrence (0.22; 95% CI 0.15, 0.30), metastasis (0.07; 95% CI 0.05, 0.10), and cancer-related death (0.03; 95% CI 0.01, 0.06). ONU showed the lowest 5 years cancer specific survival (proportion: 0.77; 95% CI 0.74, 0.80). No correlation was found between the surgical technique and recurrence-free and cancer-specific survival.


Evidence regarding RNU for the treatment of UTUC is increasing but it remains quite sparse and of low quality. Despite this, RNU seems to be safe, and to offer the advantages of a minimally invasive approach without impairing the oncological outcomes. Nevertheless, ONU, HALNU, and LNU still represent a valid, and commonly used surgical treatment option. As RNU becomes more popular, and concerns related to its use remain, the best surgical technique for NU remains to be determined.


Open radical nephroureterectomy Hand-assisted radical nephroureterectomy Laparoscopic radical nephroureterectomy Robotic radical nephroureterectomy Upper tract urothelial carcinoma 



Dr. Alessandro Veccia is an Italian Society of Urology-American Urological Association (SIU-AUA) research fellow. Funding for his fellowship is also provided by the VCU Urology Research Fund.

Author contributions

Protocol/project development: AV, RA. Data collection or management: AV, SF. Data analysis: AV, RA. Manuscript writing / editing: AV, RA, AA, and HZ. Other (Supervision): CS, GG, SP, MF, GC, LJH, FP.



Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest:

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving Human Participants and/or Animals

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Not applicable.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessandro Veccia
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alessandro Antonelli
    • 2
  • Simone Francavilla
    • 2
  • Claudio Simeone
    • 2
  • Georgi Guruli
    • 1
  • Homayoun Zargar
    • 3
  • Sisto Perdoná
    • 4
  • Matteo Ferro
    • 5
  • Giuseppe Carrieri
    • 6
  • Lance J. Hampton
    • 1
  • Francesco Porpiglia
    • 7
  • Riccardo Autorino
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of UrologyVCU Health System, VCU Medical CenterRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Urology Unit, ASST Spedali Civili Hospital, Department of Medical and Surgical Specialties, Radiological Science, and Public HealthUniversity of BresciaBresciaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Surgery, Department of UrologyUniversity of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne HospitalMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Uro-Gynecological DepartmentFondazione “G. Pascale” IRCCSNaplesItaly
  5. 5.Division of UrologyEuropean Institute of OncologyMilanItaly
  6. 6.Urology and Renal Transplantation Unit, Department of Medical and Surgical SciencesUniversity of FoggiaFoggiaItaly
  7. 7.Division of UrologySan Luigi Gonzaga HospitalOrbassano, TurinItaly

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