Intraoperative recognition and repair always is preferred, and when ureteral injuries are discovered or suspected in the operating room, cystoscopy and retrograde pyelography is the most helpful imaging tool. Contrast dye is injected during cystoscopy directly into the renal collecting system through the ureteral orifices; with fluoroscopy, the surgeon can visualize the integrity of the ureter from the bladder to the renal pelvis to diagnosis a ureteral injury, including ureteral transection, kinking, or ligation caused by a suture or sealing device.
If retrograde pyelography shows a transection or injury from a crushing clamp or sealing device, we recommend ureteroureteral anastomosis or urethral neocystostomy depending on the extent and location of the injury. If the ureter just appears kinked, sometime simply releasing the cuff sutures or uterosacral ligament sutures will resolve the obstruction. If there is extravasation of contrast suggesting a partial tear, placing a double-J ureteral stent for 6-8 weeks is frequently sufficient.
Patients with delayed iatrogenic ureteral injuries present with symptoms that often are nonspecific and that include abdominal or flank pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, back pain, and leukocytosis.
We recommend that patients with a history of surgery and symptoms suggestive of a ureteral injury be initially evaluated with CT urography that images the renal collecting system both as contrast dye is instilled and again several minutes later as it has progressed through the entire urinary tract. Alternatively, if CT urography is unavailable, a retrograde pyelogram can be performed as an emergency procedure to determine the location of renal injury.
Delayed ureteral injuries resulting in partial ureteral obstruction or extravasation of urine into the pelvis can sometimes be managed conservatively though placement of an internalized double J stent. The stent can be placed in a retrograde fashion via cystoscopy by a urogynecologist or urologist or antegrade through a percutaneous nephrostomy tube by an interventional radiologist. Several small case series suggest high success rates with this approach.