How is ureteroureterostomy performed for iatrogenic ureteral injury repair?

Updated: Nov 12, 2020
  • Author: Sandip P Vasavada, MD; Chief Editor: Bradley Fields Schwartz, DO, FACS  more...
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If the urologist is asked to evaluate the ureteral lesion intraoperatively, further dissection of the existing exposure is often necessary, because the lack of exposure is the most likely contributor to the injury. Additional blunt and sharp dissection is often necessary to adequately identify the ureter and its course.

If the ureteral injury is discovered after the initial gynecologic procedure, the urologist must decide whether to enter through the original incision and approach the ureter transperitoneally or to make a new incision and approach the ureter using a retroperitoneal approach. Either approach is acceptable, and each has distinct advantages and disadvantages.

With entry through a previous midline incision, intraperitoneal adhesions may complicate the dissection; however, this approach spares the patient an additional incision.

In contrast, if a modified Gibson incision is made to approach the ureter retroperitoneally, the dissection may be less challenging technically because it avoids the adhesions of the peritoneal cavity, but the patient is left with an additional incision.

Regardless of the approach, a Foley catheter is placed and the patient is prepared and draped in a sterile manner.

In the transperitoneal approach, an incision is made though the scar of the old incision. The dissection is extended down to the peritoneal cavity, and, once the small bowel and colon are identified, a vertical incision is made along the left side of the small bowel mesentery. Blunt dissection is performed in the retroperitoneum until the desired ureter is identified. If the inferior mesenteric artery limits the exposure, it can be divided without consequence. If the left lower ureter is the area of the injury, the sigmoid can be mobilized medially to gain adequate exposure.

In the retroperitoneal approach, after the incision is made, the external oblique, internal oblique, and transversus abdominus muscles are dissected in a muscle-splitting manner. Once the transversalis fascia is incised, take care not to enter the peritoneal cavity. The peritoneum and its contents are retracted medially, and the ureter is located in its extraperitoneal position.

The ureter is most consistently found at the bifurcation of the common iliac artery, but it is often difficult to identify, especially when dilated. Steps that can differentiate the ureter from a blood vessel with a similar appearance include pinching the structure with forceps and watching for peristalsis. If peristalsis occurs, the ureter has been identified. Additionally, a fine needle can be placed into the lumen of the questionable structure. If urine is retrieved through aspiration, the ureter has been identified; if blood is aspirated, the structure is a blood vessel.

Once the ureter is identified and dissected from its surrounding tissues, the diseased segment is excised. Take particular care not to disrupt the adventitia of the ureter, because its blood supply is contained within this layer. If difficulty is encountered in identifying the diseased segment, retrograde ureteropyelography can be performed to aid in localizing the lesion. Another option is to place a ureteral catheter cystoscopically up to the lesion; the ureteral catheter can then be palpated during the ureteral dissection.

Stay sutures are placed in each end of the ureter, and the ureter is mobilized enough so that tension-free anastomosis can be performed. Simple ureteroureterostomy is typically performed for ureteral lesions shorter than 2 cm. If the lesion is longer than 2 cm, or if it appears that the ureteral ends will not come together without tension, seek an alternative surgical approach. One or more of the following options may be chosen:

  • Further mobilization of the ureter
  • Mobilization of the ipsilateral kidney
  • Transureteroureterostomy
  • Ureteroneocystostomy
  • Ileal ureter interposition

Once the ureter appears to have enough length to be anastomosed without tension, both ureteral ends are spatulated. Two 5-0 absorbable sutures are placed in through the apex of the spatulated side of one ureter and out through the nonspatulated side of the opposite ureter. Each suture is tied, and a running stitch is performed on one half of the ureter. The same steps are performed to complete the anastomosis on the opposite half of the anastomosis.

Before completion of the second half, a double-J ureteral stent is placed by first placing a 0.038-cm Teflon-coated guide wire caudally and passing a standard 7F double-J stent over the wire. The wire is pulled after the position of the distal portion of the stent is confirmed within the bladder. Next, a small hole is made within the stent, such that the wire can be passed cephalad, placed into the proximal tip of the stent, and comes out of the created hole in the side of the stent. Once the position of the cephalad tip in the renal pelvis is confirmed, the wire is pulled, leaving a well-positioned stent.

After the anastomosis is completed, a Penrose drain or a Jackson-Pratt (JP) drain is placed in the retroperitoneum and is brought out through the skin. Omentum may be retrieved from a small incision in the posterior peritoneum and can be used to wrap the repair. Adjacent retroperitoneal fat may be used. The anterior abdominal fascia and skin are closed.

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