Anastomosis of the ureter and bladder is achieved in a mucosa-to-mucosa fashion using a series of interrupted monofilament fine absorbable sutures; we use a 3-0 monocryl suture. The most posterior anastomotic sutures are placed first to allow for optimal visualization, and prior to completing the anastomosis, a guide wire is placed through the open ureter and a double-J stent is introduced into the renal pelvis. The wire is then removed and the distal end of the stent coiled in the bladder. This stent will protect the ureter for about 6 weeks while it heals. The anastomosis is then completed on the anterior aspect, with a watertight closure ensured.
Postoperatively, we routinely perform an x-ray to ensure proper placement of the stent in the reimplanted ureter. To determine correct stent placement, the last rib is identified at T12 vertebrae. The renal pelvis is located at the level of the L2-L3 with the left being slightly higher than the right. A Foley catheter is maintained in the bladder for approximately 2 weeks, and the stent is maintained for approximately 6 weeks. Both the catheter and the stent can be removed in the office with cystoscopic guidance.
Imaging at 4-6 weeks after removal of the stent is performed to rule out development of an obstruction or a stricture. In patients who did not have a dilated ureter and renal collecting system prior to reimplantation, a renal ultrasound is sufficient to identify hydroureter/hydronephrosis or a urinoma. Many patients with a markedly dilated renal-collecting system prior to ureteral reimplantation will have persistent hydroureter/hydronephrosis (similar to a latex balloon that does not return to its original size after it is blown up) after reimplantation. A Lasix renal scan is a better imaging modality in these patients because it can differentiate a ureter that is dilated from one that is dilated and obstructed.
It is important to note that prompt ureteroneocystotomy is feasible only when the delayed ureteral injury presents within approximately 7 days of surgery. If the patient presents more than a week after surgery, inflammation is so significant that conservative management is necessary with reevaluation for reimplantation in another 6 weeks. Decompression of the system prior to reimplantation can be achieved through either stent placement or placement of a percutaneous nephrostomy tube. We prefer the latter because it reduces inflammation around the ureter that may make subsequent dissection and surgery more difficult.
Dr. Kenton is chief of urogynecology, Northwestern University, Chicago, and Dr. Mueller also is in the division of female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery–urogynecology at Northwestern. Dr. Kenton discloses grant funding from Boston Scientific.