Ureteroscopy with thulium fiber laser lithotripsy results in shorter operating times and large cost savings

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World journal of urology


PURPOSE: Prolonged ureteroscopy (URS) is associated with complications including ureteral perforation, stricture, and urosepsis. As laser lithotripsy is one of the most common urologic procedures, small cost savings per case can have a large financial impact. This retrospective study was designed to determine if Thulium fiber laser (TFL) lithotripsy decreases operative time and costs compared to standard Holmium:YAG (Ho:YAG) lithotripsy without pulse modulation. METHODS: A retrospective review of URS with laser lithotripsy was conducted for 152 cases performed from August 2020 to January 2021. Variables including cumulative stone size, location, chemical composition, prior ureteral stenting, and ureteral access sheath use were recorded for each case. A cost benefit analysis was performed to show projected cost savings due to potentially decreased operative times. RESULTS: Compared to Ho:YAG, use of TFL resulted in an average decrease of 12.9 min per case (p = .021, 95% CI [2.03-23.85]). In subgroup analysis of cases with cumulative stone diameter less than 15 mm, the difference was 14.0 min (p = .007, CI [3.95-23.95]). For cases less than 10 mm, the mean difference was 17.3 min in favor of TFL (p = .002, 95% CI [6.89-27.62]). This ~ 13 min reduction in operative time resulted in saving $440/case in direct operating room costs giving our institution a range of $294,000 to $381,900 savings per year. CONCLUSIONS: TFL has a significantly shorter operative time and decreased cost when compared to the standard Ho:YAG for equivalent kidney stone and patient characteristics. Longer term follow up is needed to see if recurrence rates are affected.


Joshua Linscott- Resident

Mitchell Nguyen- Resident