Trends in the utilization of imaging for upper tract urothelial carcinoma

Anand Mohapatra, Goutham Vemana, Sam Bhayani, Jack Baty, Joel Vetter, Seth A. Strope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objectives: To evaluate the changes in use of the different imaging modalities for diagnosing upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC) and assess how these changes have affected tumor stage at the time of surgery. Materials and methods: We assessed the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) cancer registry and linked Medicare claims data (1992-2009) for 5377 patients who underwent surgery for UTUC. We utilized International Classification of Disease-Oncology 3 codes to identify UTUC. International Classification of Disease, ninth Revision, Clinical Modification and Current Procedure Terminology codes identified surgical treatment and imaging modalities. We assessed for use of intravenous pyelography, retrograde pyelography (RGP), computed tomography urography (CTU), magnetic resonance urography (MRU), and endoscopy. For each modality, patients were categorized as having received the modality at least once or not at all. Patient characteristics were compared using chi-squared tests. Usage of imaging modalities and tumor stage was trended using Cochran-Armitage tests. We stratified our data into 2 multivariate logistic regression models to determine the effect of imaging modalities on tumor stage: 1992 to 1999 with all modalities except MRU, and 2000 to 2009 with all modalities. Results: Our patient population was predominantly White males of more than 70 years old. Intravenous pyelography and RGP declined in use (62% and 72% in 1992 vs. 6% and 58% in 2009, respectively) while computed tomography urography, MRU, and endoscopy increased in use (2%, 0%, and 37% in 1992 vs. 44%, 6%, and 66% in 2009, respectively). In both regression analyses, endoscopy was associated with lower-stage tumors. In the 2000 to 2009 model, RGP was associated with lower-stage tumors, and MRU was associated with higher-stage tumors. Finally, our data showed an increasing number of modalities utilized for each patient (1% receiving 4 modalities in 1992 vs. 20% in 2009). Conclusions: We found trends toward the utilization of newer imaging modalities to diagnose UTUC and more modalities per patient. Endoscopy and RGP were associated with smaller tumors, whereas MRU was associated with larger tumors. Further studies are needed to evaluate the utility of the different modalities in diagnosing UTUC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236.e23-236.e28
JournalUrologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Diagnosis
  • Endoscopy
  • Imaging
  • Surgery
  • Upper Tract Urothelial Cancer


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