Purpose: We analyzed the prognostic impact of hydronephrosis grade on disease specific survival and evaluated whether hydronephrosis grade could preoperatively predict worse pathological outcomes in cases of upper tract urothelial carcinoma treated surgically. Materials and Methods: We identified and retrospectively reviewed the records of 91 patients who were evaluated by multidetector computerized tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging preoperatively, and treated with nephroureterectomy at our institution from 2000 to 2009. Ipsilateral hydronephrosis was graded 0 to 4 by 2 urological radiologists blinded to clinical outcomes. We analyzed the associations between hydronephrosis grade, and pathological findings and patient outcomes. Results: Preoperatively 67 patients (73.6%) had ipsilateral hydronephrosis. Grade was 1 to 4 in 3 (3.3%), 17 (18.7%), 23 (25.3%) and 24 cases (26.4%), respectively. Higher hydronephrosis grade was significantly associated with a ureteral tumor (p = 0.0307), higher pT stage (p = 0.0002) and lymphovascular invasion (p = 0.0014). Higher hydronephrosis grade was not associated with disease specific or metastasis-free survival. On preoperative multivariate analysis high hydronephrosis grade predicted pathological T stage (T3 or greater) (HR 4.98, p = 0.0228), positive lymphovascular invasion (HR 6.37, p = 0.0022) and grade 3 (HR 2.98, p = 0.0311). Conclusions: On image analysis preoperative hydronephrosis grade was associated with features of aggressive disease and predicted an advanced pathological outcome in patients with upper tract urothelial carcinoma. This information could prove useful to select candidates for neoadjuvant chemotherapy and make decisions concerning surgical options.
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