Category: Urogenital

A New Intervention for Male Urinary Tract Symptoms

Urinary incontinence. Credit: Scientific Animations CC4.0

A new intervention for men with urinary problems trialled across GP practices has shown a sustained reduction in symptoms. Findings from the University of Bristol-led Treating Urinary Symptoms in Men in Primary Healthcare (TRIUMPH) study, involving over 1000 participants and 30 GP practices, have been published in the BMJ. The study was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

The severity and prevalence of lower urinary tract symptoms [LUTS] in men increases with age (up to 30% in men over 65 years), with greater numbers likely to be affected as the population ages. Symptoms can have a substantial impact on quality of life but can also influenced by lifestyle factors.

Current therapies recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) include bladder training, controlling fluid intake and lifestyle advice. However, there is a lack of evidence on their effectiveness, and provision by GP practices varies.

Bristol Medical School researchers sought to trial whether a new intervention, comprising a healthcare professional consultation and an information booklet providing conservative and lifestyle guidance, could be more effective than usual care.

Study findings

The team recruited 1077 adult men, each suffering with troublesome urinary tract symptoms between June 2018 and August 2019. Participants were split with 524 in the intervention arm and 553 in the usual care arm. Participants in the intervention arm were directed to relevant sections of the booklet by general practice nurses/healthcare assistants or research nurses following urinary symptom assessment, with subsequent contacts over 12 weeks to ask how the participant was managing.

Overall, the study’s findings showed a range of troublesome urinary tract symptoms improved over 12 months in a population of men with moderate symptom severity, using a standardised booklet and manualised approach to symptom management. Analyses of symptoms in each trial arm found the intervention achieved a greater reduction in symptoms than usual care, and that the difference was maintained in the longer term

Consultant Urologist, Professor Marcus Drake, the study’s Chief Investigator, said: “The assessment of male lower urinary tract symptoms and use of conservative treatments in primary care are inconsistent. Until now, there was limited evidence that conservative treatments are effective, despite their recommendation in national guidelines. The TRIUMPH study aimed to address this need in primary care.

“Implementation of this intervention as management in primary care, has the potential to improve care and reduce drug prescriptions. Our study also found the intervention can be delivered by practice nurses or healthcare assistants rather than GPs.”

Dr Jon Rees, GP Partner at Tyntesfield Medical Group, and Chair of the Primary Care Urology Society, added: “In primary care we have often traditionally relied upon pharmaceutical management for men with bothersome urinary symptoms – the TRIUMPH study emphasises the importance of discussing conservative measures with all of these patients – for some men, this will be all that is required, for others these measures can act as an adjunct to any medication prescribed.

“Many men will prefer to avoid long-term medication, so an understanding of the potential benefits of the interventions used in the study is a vital part of the toolkit for any clinician managing these patients.”

Professor Matthew Ridd, at University of Bristol, said: “This is a ‘bread-and-butter’ problem seen by GPs every day and it is great to now have evidence for something other than tablets. It has the additional advantage that it can be done by a practice nurse, freeing up GP time.”

Source: University of Bristol

Regular Checkups may Forestall Kidney Disease Progression

Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

A new Japanese ecological study revealed that participation rates for Specific Health Checkups (SHC participation rates) had significant negative effects on standardised incidence rates (SIRs) of treated end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) and prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The findings support the importance of increasing SHC participation rates at the population level and encouraging people to undergo regular health checkups.

These factors were all relative to each of Japan’s administrative regions, known as prefectures. The findings were reported in Clinical and Experimental Nephrology.

“Japan has one of the highest incidence and prevalence rates of treated ESKD and substantial regional variation in the incidence of treated ESKD despite a uniform health care and insurance system and low ethnic and racial diversity,” said Dr Wakasugi, the corresponding author of the study. “Large variations have been observed by prefecture in participation rates for SHC, an annual health screening program introduced by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare since 2008 to identify individuals requiring specific health guidance to reduce the number of people having or at risk for, metabolic syndrome.”

Using five sources of nationwide open data, the study revealed that SHC participation rates had significant direct negative effects on prefecture-specific standardised incidence rates (SIRs) and the prefecture-specific prevalence of CKD. Furthermore, through SHC participation rates, the ratio of nephrology specialists had a significant indirect negative effect on prefecture-specific SIRs, suggesting that a higher prefecture-specific ratio of nephrology specialists was associated with lower prefecture-specific SIRs. The structural equation modelling model explained 14% of the variance in prefecture-specific SIRs, indicating that prefecture-specific SHC participation rates can partially explain regional variation in prefecture-specific SIRs of treated ESKD.

“Our findings concord with the Neyagawa Health Checkups and Health Care in Kokuho Database study, which showed that men who did not attend health checkups and did not undergo a kidney test using dipstick urinalysis and/or serum creatinine measurement at medical facilities were at significantly higher risk of treated ESKD than those who attended checkups, especially among those aged ≥ 75 years,” said Dr Wakasugi. “Our findings provide evidence to support the importance of increasing SHC participation rates from a population-level perspective and encouraging people to undergo health checkups.”

Source: EurekAlert

Study Finds Urological Effects of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Men

Photo by Help Stay on Unsplash

A study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine indicates that SARS-CoV-2 infection may worsen lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in men. The study researchers found that a enlarged prostate as a result of COVID was involved.

The study included 17 986 men receiving medication for LUTS within the public healthcare system of Hong Kong in 2021–2022, half of whom had SARS-CoV-2 infection. The group with SARS-CoV-2 had significantly higher rates of retention of urine (4.55% versus 0.86%); blood in the urine (1.36% versus 0.41%); clinical urinary tract infection (4.31% versus 1.49%); bacteria in the urine (9.02% versus 1.97%); and addition of 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, which are drugs prescribed for enlarged prostate. (0.50% versus 0.02%). These urological manifestations occurred regardless of COVID severity.

The findings might relate to the presence of certain proteins targeted by SARS-CoV-2 that are known to be expressed in the prostate.

“We are excited to be the first to report the effects of COVID on complications of benign prostatic hyperplasia – or enlarged prostate – and also demonstrate the alarming extent of its urological effects,” said corresponding author Alex Qinyang Liu, MD, of Prince of Wales Hospital, in Hong Kong.

Source: Wiley

New Treatment Combination could Prevent Cystectomy in Invasive Bladder Cancer

Photo by cottonbro studio

Mount Sinai investigators have developed a new approach for treating invasive bladder cancer without the need for surgical removal of the bladder, they report in their study published in Nature Medicine. At present, cystectomy (removal of the bladder) is currently a standard approach when cancer has invaded the muscle layer of the bladder.

In a phase 2 clinical trial that was the first of its kind, doctors found that some patients could be treated with a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy without the need to remove their bladder. Radical cystectomy can be curative in muscle-invasive bladder cancer, but the procedure is a life-changing operation due to the need for urinary diversion and is associated with a 90 day mortality risk of up to 6–8%.

“Treatment for muscle-invasive bladder cancer is in need of major improvements from both a quality-of-life and an effectiveness standpoint,” said Matthew Galsky, MD, Co-Director of the Center of Excellence for Bladder Cancer at The Tisch Cancer Institute, a part of the Tisch Cancer Center at Mount Sinai. “If additional research confirms our findings, this may lead to a new paradigm in the treatment of muscle-invasive bladder cancer.”

The 76 patients received four cycles of gemcitabine, cisplatin, plus nivolumab followed by clinical restaging. Approximately 43% (33 patients) achieved a complete response (no detectable cancer) when treated with this combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Patients with a clinical complete response were offered the opportunity to proceed with additional immunotherapy, without surgical removal of the bladder. Among patients opting to proceed without surgical removal of the bladder, about 70% had no evidence of recurrent cancer after two years.

The most common adverse events were fatigue, anaemia, neutropenia and nausea. Somatic alterations in pre-specified genes or increased tumour mutational burden did not improve the positive predictive value of complete response.

Based on the results of this trial, two follow-up studies were launched to build on this approach; one is ongoing, and another will open in the next six months.

Source: The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Cranberry Products for UTI Prevention Really Do Work

A global study looking at the benefits of cranberry products has determined that cranberry juice, and its supplements, reduce the risk of repeat symptomatic UTIs in women by more than a quarter. The study researchers, from Flinders University and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, also found that was reduced in children by more than half, and in people susceptible to UTI following medical interventions by about 53%.

Cranberry juice and healthcare supplements that commonly include the fruit, such as capsules and tablets, have long been promoted as a readily available solution to ward off the infection but the most recent review in 2012, with evidence from 24 trials, showed no benefit from the products.

The medical scientists behind this updated review published in Cochrane Reviews aimed to update these findings, as by looking at 50 more recent trials that included almost 9000 participants.

“This incredible result didn’t really surprise us, as we’re taught that when there’s more and better evidence, the truth will ultimately come out. UTIs are horrible and very common; about a third of women will experience one, as will many elderly people and also people with bladder issues from spinal cord injury or other conditions,” says the study lead author Dr Gabrielle Williams.

“Even back in 1973, my mum was told to try cranberry juice to prevent her horrible and frequent UTIs, and for her it’s been a saviour. Despite me niggling in her ear about evidence, she’s continued to take it daily, first as the nasty sour juice and in recent years, the easy to swallow capsules. As soon as she stops, wham the symptoms are back. As usual, it turns out that mum was right! Cranberry products can help some women prevent UTIs.”

Flinders University epidemiologist Dr Jacqueline Stephens, a co-author of the study, says if the UTI persists untreated it can move to the kidneys and cause pain and more complications, including sepsis in very severe cases, so prevention is the most effective way to reduce risks.

“Most UTIs are effectively, and pretty quickly, treated with antibiotics, sometimes as little as one dose can cure the problem. Unfortunately, in some people UTIs keep coming back. Without being sure if or how it works, some healthcare providers began suggesting it to their patients. It was a harmless, easy option at the time. Even centuries ago, Native Americans reportedly ate cranberries for bladder problems, leading somewhat more recently, to laboratory scientists exploring what it was in cranberries that helped and how it might work.”

“The studies we looked at included a range of methods to determine the benefits of cranberry products. The vast majority compared cranberry products with a placebo or no treatment for UTI and determined drinking cranberries as a juice or taking capsules reduced the number of UTIs in women with recurrent cases, in children and in people susceptible to UTi’s following medical interventions such as bladder radiotherapy.”

“It’s also important to consider that few people reported any side effects with the most common being tummy pain based on the results. We also did not find enough information to determine if cranberry products are more or less effective compared with antibiotics or probiotics in preventing further UTIs.”

The data also doesn’t show any benefit for elderly people, pregnant women or in people with bladder emptying problems.

The study’s senior author, Professor Jonathan Craig, says the real benefits of cranberry products became clear when the researchers expanded the scope of the review to include the most recently available clinical data.

“This is a review of the totality of the evidence and as new evidence emerges, new findings might occur. In this case, the new evidence shows a very positive finding that cranberry juice can prevent UTI in susceptible people,” says Professor Craig.

“We have shown the efficacy of cranberry products for the treatment of UTIs using all the evidence published on this topic since the mid-nineties. The earlier versions of this review didn’t have enough evidence to determine efficacy and subsequent clinical trials showed varied results, but in this updated review the volume of data has shown this new finding.”

The study authors conclude that while cranberry products do help prevent UTIs in women with frequent recurrence, more studies are needed to further clarify who with UTI would benefit most from cranberry products.

Source: Flinders University

Oestrogen may Protect against Delirium in Older Women with UTIs

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Delirium is common among women with urinary tract infections (UTIs) – especially those who have experienced menopause. In mouse models, researchers have been able to prevent symptoms of the condition by administering oestrogen. Their study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports.

“There has been a resurgence of interest in hormone replacement therapy, and this study, which builds on our previous work, shows that it may be a tool to mitigate delirium,” said Shouri Lahiri, MD, director of the Neurosciences Critical Care Unit and Neurocritical Care Research at Cedars-Sinai and senior author of the study. “I think it is a major step toward a clinical trial of oestrogen in human patients with UTIs.”

Lahiri said that delirium is a common problem in older women with UTIs.

“Even as a medical student, you know that if an older woman comes to the hospital and she’s confused, one of the first things you check is whether the patient has a UTI,” Lahiri said.

In previous studies, Lahiri’s team found a connection between delirium and an immune-regulating protein called interleukin 6 (IL-6). Events such as lung injury or UTI cause IL-6 to travel through the blood to the brain, causing symptoms such as disorientation and confusion. Oestrogen is a known suppressor of IL-6, so the investigators designed experiments to test its effects on UTI-induced delirium.

The researchers compared pre- and postmenopausal mice with UTIs and observed their behaviour in several types of specialised environments. They found that the mice in which menopause had been induced exhibited symptoms of delirium, such as anxiousness and confusion, while the others did not.

When they treated the mice with oestrogen, levels of IL-6 in the blood and delirium-like behaviour were greatly reduced. The behavioural differences were not related to UTI severity, as bacterial levels in the urine weren’t markedly different between the two groups, Lahiri said.

The investigators also looked at the direct effects of oestrogen on neurons, using what Lahiri called a “UTI in a dish.”

“We exposed individual neurons to an IL-6 inflammation cocktail to create UTI-like injury,” Lahiri said. “But when we added oestrogen to the cocktail, it mitigated the injury. So, we showed that there are at least two ways that oestrogen helps reduce symptoms of delirium. It reduces IL-6 levels in the blood and protects the neurons directly.”

Just how oestrogen acts to protect neurons is still unexplained. And before conducting a clinical trial, researchers need to identify which patients with UTIs are most likely to experience delirium and at what point oestrogen treatment might be most effective.

“Currently, it is common practice to treat UTI-induced delirium using antibiotics, even though there are no clinical trials that indicate this practice is effective and it is not supported by clinical practice guidelines,” said Nancy Sicotte, MD, chair of the Department of Neurology and the Women’s Guild Distinguished Chair in Neurology at Cedars-Sinai. “This work is an important step in determining whether modulating immune response via oestrogen replacement or other means is a more effective treatment.”

The team is also working to understand the different effects of delirium on females versus males, which was not a topic of this study. Effective treatment of delirium could be of long-term importance, Lahiri said, because it is a known risk factor for long-term cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.

Source: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

New Drug Combination More Effective in Treating Urinary Tract Infections

E. Coli bacteria. Image by CDC
E. Coli bacteria. Image by CDC

An international study published in JAMA comparing new and older treatments against complicated urinary tract infections has found that a new drug combination of cefepime and enmetazobactam to be more effective, especially against drug-resistant strains.

Researchers in the ALLIUM Phase 3 clinical trial showed that a combination of the drugs cefepime and enmetazobactam was more effective in treating both complicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) and acute pyelonephritis (AP), a bacterial infection causing kidney inflammation, than the standard combination of piperacillin and tazobactam. UTIs are considered complicated when they are associated with risk factors such as fevers, sepsis, urinary obstruction or catheters, that increase the danger of failing antibiotic therapy.

“This new antibiotic was superior to the standard-of-care therapy,” said Professor Keith Kaye at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, the study’s lead author. “It represents an exciting option for treatment.”

Prof Kaye added this drug combination also fights an often-dangerous category of bacterial illnesses caused by pathogens known as extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) infections, named for an enzyme the bacteria produce. ESBL-producing bacteria can’t be killed effectively by many of the antibiotics conventionally used to treat infections, such as penicillins and cephalosporins.

“We are looking for antibiotics that are active against resistant bacteria, such as ESBLs, and we found this new combination to be highly effective,” Prof Kaye said.

The trial was conducted at 90 sites in Europe, North and Central America, South America and South Africa from September 2018 to November 2019. More than 1000 patients participated in the study. Some 79% of the patients receiving the new combination of cefepime and enmetazobactam were successfully treated for their illness, as opposed to 58.9% of those receiving the conventional treatment of piperacillin and tazobactam.

Of the 20% of patients from the overall group belonging to the subset of those with ESBL infections, 73% receiving cefepime and enmetazobactam achieved a clinical cure, as opposed to 51% on the standard therapy.

The antibiotic cefepime is a fourth-generation cephalosporin that was approved for use in the 1990s and is available generically. Enmetazobactam, an experimental drug made by the French biopharmaceutical company Allecra Therapeutics, is a beta-lactamase inhibitor, meaning it attacks the beta-lactamases, including the types of enzymes produced by ESBL-producing bacteria. The drug combination has been fast-tracked for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Source: Rutger University

Focus on Urinary Problems Clouds Early Prostate Cancer Detection

Credit: Darryl Leja / National-Human-Genome Research Institute / National Institutes of Health

Diagnoses of early, curable stages of prostate cancer are being missed because national guidelines and media health campaigns in the UK focus on urinary symptoms despite a lack of scientific evidence, according to University of Cambridge researchers.

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men. And while 78% of men diagnosed with this cancer survive for over ten years, this proportion has barely changed over the past decade in the UK, largely because the disease is detected at a relatively late stage. In England, for example, nearly half of all prostate cancers are picked up at stage three of four (stage four being the latest stage).

Despite no evidence of a link between urinary symptoms and prostate cancer, national guidelines, health advice and public health campaigns continue to promote this link. In a review published in BMC Medicine, Cambridge researchers argue that not only is this unhelpful, but it may even deter men from coming forward for early testing and detection of a potentially treatable cancer.

“When most people think of the symptoms of prostate cancer, they think of problems with peeing or needing to pee more frequently, particularly during the night,” said Vincent Gnanapragasam, Professor of Urology at the University of Cambridge. “This misperception has lasted for decades, despite very little evidence, and it’s potentially preventing us picking up cases at an early stage.”

Prostate enlargement can cause the urinary problems often included in public health messaging, but evidence suggests that this is rarely due to malignant prostate tumours. Rather, research suggests that the prostate is smaller in cases of prostate cancer.  A recent study – the UK PROTECT trial – even went as far as to say that a lack of urinary symptoms may in fact be an indicator of a higher likelihood of cancer.

Screening programmes are one way that cancers are often detected at an early stage, but in the case of prostate cancer, some argue that such programmes risk overwhelming health services and leading to men being treated for relatively benign disease.

Testing for prostate cancer involves a blood test that looks for a protein known as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) that is made only by the prostate gland; however, it is not always accurate. PSA density is significantly more accurate than PSA alone in predicting a positive biopsy and is used in everyday clinical practice.

The researchers point to evidence that there is a misconception that prostate cancer is always symptomatic: a previous study found that 86% of the public associated prostate cancer with symptoms, but only 1% were aware that it could be asymptomatic.

“We urgently need to recognise that the information currently given to the public risks giving men a false sense of security if they don’t have any urinary symptoms,” said Prof Gnanapragasam.

“We need to emphasise that prostate cancer can be a silent or asymptomatic disease, particularly in its curable stages. Waiting out for urinary symptoms may mean missing opportunities to catch the disease when it’s treatable.

“Men shouldn’t be afraid to speak to their GP about getting tested, and about the value of a PSA test, especially if they have a history of prostate cancer in their family or have other risk factors such as being of Black or mixed Black ethnicity.”

The researchers say they are not advocating for an immediate screening programme, and acknowledge that changes in messaging could mean more men approaching their GPs for a PSA test, potentially resulting in unnecessary investigations and treatment. However, they argue that there are ways to reduce the risk of this happening. These include the use of algorithms to assess an individual’s risk and whether they need to be referred to a specialist, and for those who are referred, MRI scans could help rule out ‘indolent’ (mild) disease or negative findings, reducing the risks of an unnecessary biopsy.

“We’re calling on organisations such as the NHS, as well as patient charities and the media, to review the current public messaging,” said Prof Gnanapragasam.

“If men were aware that just because they have no symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean they are cancer free, then more might take up offers for tests. This could mean more tumours identified at an earlier stage and reduce the numbers of men experiencing late presentation with incurable disease.”

Source: University of Cambridge

Vibrator Use Improves Sexual and Urinary Outcomes


Studies have demonstrated positive effects of vibrator use on a number of sexual and urinary outcomes in women, according to a review of published literature presented at at the American Urological Association annual meeting.

Though limited in number, the studies induced favourable changes in blood flow and muscle tone of genital tissues, improved multiple aspects of sexual arousal and satisfaction, increased orgasmic response, and decreased sexual distress. In women with pelvic floor dysfunction, vibrator use was associated with decreased urine leakage and urinary symptoms and significantly improved pelvic muscle strength. Vibrator use also decreased pain and improved sexual enjoyment in women with vulvodynia.

“Medical providers, especially gynaecologists, urologists, and FPMRS [female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery specialists] need more education on women’s sexual health and vibrators,” said Alexandra Dubinskaya, MD, of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “We need to remove the stigma from vibrators and I do believe this soon will be possible as we are now normalising discussion about women’s sexual health.”

Vibrators should be viewed as another form of technology that can be applied to benefit patients in clinical practice, said Rachel S. Rubin, MD, of Georgetown University in Washington.

“I believe we use technology to make our lives better in almost every way … and the bedroom should not be absent of technology,” she said. “Sex tech is incredible now, from what it used to be. It’s no longer just the seedy stores with newspaper over the windows, but really high-end wonderful devices for couples for all genders. There are so many health benefits to these devices.”

“I believe that if we get male partners interested in devices in the bedroom, everyone’s sexual health will improve,” she stated.

According to Dr Dubiskaya, therapeutic vibratory stimulation has its origin in the now-disproven condition known as female hysteria, associated with excessive emotions and thought to be related to marital relationships, orgasm, and pregnancy. Practitioners were said to have to turned to vibrators to relieve hysteria by stimulating the female patients to orgasms, referred to as “paroxysms”, and turned to vibrators when the practice started to take a toll on their hands and wrists. It’s a now-familiar idea that was popularised by Rachel Maines in her 1998 book “The Technology of Orgasm”, which even inspired a movie.

However, there is no actual evidence in support of this supposed practice as Dubisankya claims. Hallie Lieberman and Eric Schatzberg, the chair of the School of History and Sociology at Georgia Tech, were some of the few who actually bothered to check Maines’s 465 citations. “Maines fails to cite a single source that openly describes use of the vibrator to massage the clitoral area,” they wrote in a contentious paper. “None of her English-language sources even mentions production of ‘paroxysms’ by massage or anything else that could remotely suggest an orgasm.”

Nevertheless, vibrator use is now widespread despite its seedy reputation it had acquired in modern times. In a survey conducted over a decade ago, a majority of women and more than 40% of men reported the use of a vibrator at some point in their lives.

To assess the evidence supporting vibrators’ medical benefits in women, the researchers conducted a systematic literature review, focusing on studies related to sexual health, pelvic floor function, and vulvar health. They found 21 meeting the inclusion criteria, 11 of which were studies of female sexual dysfunction, nine on pelvic floor dysfunction, and one on vulvodynia.

The sexual dysfunction studies showed that vibratory stimulation facilitated vasodilation and blood flow, improved tissue perfusion and metabolism, decreased muscle tone, and increased relaxation. Clinically, use of vibrators was found to be associated with improvement in the Female Sexual Function Index score, as well as increased arousal, orgasm, and genital sensation.

Patients who used vibrators reported increased sexual desire, satisfaction, and overall sexual function, as well as reduced time to orgasm, achievement of multiple orgasms, and reduced distress.

The pelvic floor dysfunction studies showed that vibratory stimulation was linked to a reduction in use of hygienic pads among women with stress urinary incontinence and urine leakage, as well as urinary symptoms. There was improvement in pelvic-floor muscle tone, QoL and patient satisfaction with the treatment.

The vulvodynia study focused on vibratory stimulation for relief of pain and associated symptoms. Dr Dubinskaya said that after 4 to 6 weeks of vibrator use, women reported antinociceptive and desensitising effects, reduced pain, and increased sexual enjoyment. More than 80% of the study participants expressed satisfaction with the treatment, and 90% said they were comfortable with their doctor offering a vibrator as a form of therapy.

Dr Dubisankya is recruiting for a clinical trial to identify which conditions can be most effectively treated with vibrator use.

Source: MedPage Today

Surgical Simulations Confer Better Skills and Reduce Complications

A surgical simulation unit used in the study. Credit: Takashige Abe.

An international trial found that while simulation-based training for ureteroscopy did not speed up surgeons general proficiency acquisition, it did increase skills in more complex surgeries, with fewer total complications and ureteric injuries. The results were published in the journal European Urology.

“To date, there have been limited data, mostly from small-scale studies conducted with medical students, assessing the transferability of surgical simulation,” said paper authors Takashige Abe, Associate Professor of Urology at Hokkaido University. The aim, he said, was to evaluate whether surgical residents undergoing additional simulation training can achieve proficiency sooner and with better patient outcomes, compared to usual operation room-based training.

The trial followed 65 participants in 10 countries for 18 months, or up to 25 procedures. A total of 32 participants received simulation-based training while 33 received conventional apprenticeship-style training. Both remained supervised by more experienced surgeons. Participants performed a total of 1140 surgeries, either semi-rigid or flexible ureteroscopy to remove ureteral or renal stones, respectively, demonstrating “mixed results” in proficiency.

“For our primary outcome measure, while we showed what might be deemed a clinically meaningful difference, it was not statistically significant,” Prof Abe said. “However, when stratified to each procedure type, there were higher rates of proficiency in the simulation-based training group when it came to the more technically challenging flexible ureteroscopy procedure.”

Prof Abe also noted that the simulation group scored higher on a standard assessment for each surgerythe other group.

“Simulation-based training led to higher overall proficiency scores than for conventional training, and fewer procedures were required to achieve proficiency in the complex form of the index procedure, with fewer serious complications overall,” Prof Abe said. “It is expected that the results of the trial will have a positive impact for advanced procedural training beyond the fields of surgery and urology in order to promote patients’ safety as well as better surgical outcomes.”

Source: University of Hokkaido