Medical & Surgical Urology


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We measure and compare operator specific success rates of extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL *) performed by 12 urologists in 1 unit to determine interoperator variation.

Materials and Methods: From January 1, 1994 to September 1, 1997 a total of 5,769 renal and ureteral stones received 9,607 ESWL treatments by 15 urologists with a Dornier MFL 5000* lithotriptor. The 3-month followup data are available for 4,409 stones. Outcome measures consisted of patient demographics, stone characteristics, technical details of lithotripsy, and stone-free and success rates by treating urologists.

Results: Treatment results were analyzed for 12 urologists (surgeons A to L) who treated more than 100 stones each, totaling 4,244 with followup information available. Mean stone-free and success rates were 50.6% and 72.3%, respectively. Surgeon A had significantly higher stone-free and success rates of 56.2% and 76.7%, respectively (p <0.05), with treatment results from 877 stones, which was a significantly higher number than others (p <0.05). Significant differences existed in mean number of shocks delivered among urologists (p = 0.0001), with surgeons A and J delivering the highest mean numbers (2,317 and 2,801, respectively). There was no difference in treatment duration (p = 0.75) but variation existed among urologists in terms of mean maximum treatment voltage (p = 0.0001). Mean fluoroscopy time at 4.1 minutes was higher for surgeon A than others (p <0.05). Mean complication rate following ESWL was 4.9% with no difference among urologists (p = 0.175). Re-treatment was required in 21.7% of cases and surgeon A had the lowest rate (15.9%, p <0.05).

Conclusions: We demonstrated clinically and statistically significant intra-institutional differences in success rates following ESWL. The best results were obtained by the urologist who treated the greatest number of patients, used a high number of shocks and had the longest fluoroscopy time. Accurate targeting is crucial when using a lithotriptor, such as the Dornier MFL 5000, with a narrow focal zone of 6.5 mm. in diameter. Other centers should be encouraged to develop similar programs of outcome analysis in an attempt to improve performance.

This article was published in CLINICAL UROLOGY and referenced in Medical & Surgical Urology

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