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European UrologyVolume 62, issue 2, pages e31-e48, August 2012
Surgery in Motion
Neurovascular Structure-adjacent Frozen-section Examination (NeuroSAFE) Increases Nerve-sparing Frequency and Reduces Positive Surgical Margins in Open and Robot-assisted Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy: Experience After 11 069 Consecutive Patients
Accepted 29 April 2012, Published online 16 May 2012, pages 333 - 340
Intraoperative frozen-section analysis allows real-time histologic assessment of surgical margins (SMs) and identification of candidates for nerve-sparing (NS) procedures.
To examine the efficacy and oncologic safety of a systematic neurovascular structure-adjacent frozen-section examination (NeuroSAFE) during NS radical prostatectomy (RP).
Design, setting, and participants
From January 2002 to June 2011, 11 069 consecutive RPs were performed at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. Of these, 5392 (49%) were conducted with NeuroSAFE.
Our NeuroSAFE approach included the whole laterorectal circumference of the prostate to determine the SM status of the complete neurovascular tissue-corresponding prostatic surface.
Outcome measurements and statistical analysis
The impact of NeuroSAFE on NS frequency, SM status, and biochemical recurrence (BCR) was analyzed by chi-square test, and by Kaplan-Meier analyses in propensity score–based matched cohorts.
Results and limitations
Positive SMs (PSMs) were detected in 1368 (25%) NeuroSAFE RPs, leading to a secondary resection of the ipsilateral neurovascular tissue. Secondary wide resection resulted in conversion to a definitive negative SM (NSM) status in 1180 (86%) patients. In NeuroSAFE RPs, frequency of NS was significantly higher (all stages: 97% vs 81%; pT2: 99% vs 92%; pT3a: 94% vs 72%; pT3b: 88% vs 40%; p < 0.0001) and PSM rates were significantly lower (all stages: 15% vs 22%; pT2: 7% vs 12%; pT3a: 21% vs 32%; p < 0.0001) than in the matched non-NeuroSAFE RPs. In propensity score–based comparisons, NeuroSAFE had no negative impact on BCR (pT2, p = 0.06; pT3a, p = 0.17, pT3b, p = 0.99), and BCR-free survival of patients with conversion to NSM did not differ significantly from patients with primarily NSM (pT2, p = 0.16; pT3, p = 0.26). The accuracy of our NeuroSAFE approach was 97% with a false-negative rate of 2.5%. The major limitations of this study are its retrospective nature and relatively short follow-up.
NeuroSAFE enables real-time histologic monitoring of the oncologic safety of a NS procedure. Systematic NeuroSAFE significantly increases NS frequencies and reduces PSMs. Patients with a NeuroSAFE-detected PSM could be converted to a prognostically more favorable NSM status by secondary wide resection.
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