What is the role of cytology in the workup of urothelial tumors of the renal pelvis and ureters?

Updated: Aug 07, 2020
  • Author: Kyle A Richards, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Bradley Fields Schwartz, DO, FACS  more...
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Cytopathology of voided urine samples yields low sensitivity, especially for low-grade tumors, which results in normal cytology results in up to 80% of cases. The sensitivity of cytopathology increases for higher-grade tumors, which tend to shed more tumor cells. Cytology yields an accuracy of 83% in patients with high-grade disease. Cytology is less sensitive for upper tract transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) than for bladder cancer.

Cytology samples should be taken from as near the suspected lesion as possible (ie, within the calyceal system). Positive cytology has been related to more advanced (invasive) disease. [16] Selective washings of both the upper tracts and the bladder can aid in tumor localization. Cytology plays a role in urothelial tumor surveillance in conjunction with cystoscopy/ureteroscopy.

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