We read with interest the paper by Demir et al, which suggests the use of tamsulosin, an alpha-blocker, before ureteroscopy to not only increase the success of the procedure but also reduce postoperative complications and pain.1 While the use of alpha-blockers has been shown to be beneficial in promoting the passage of ureteric stones in several studies.2 Demir et al. investigated the effects when tamsulosin was provided preoperatively, expanding on current literature in managing patient outcomes. Here, we comment on the healthcare implications of implementing these proposed conclusions.
Ureteroscopy (URS) is a minimally invasive procedure, which is routinely used for upper urinary tract diseases, particularly kidney stones. Although it is a well-established procedure, it is associated with several complications such as ureteral wall injury and perforation, stone migration, ureteral stent discomfort, urosepsis, hematuria, renal pseudoaneurysm, and in some rare cases even death.3 Alpha-blockers play an important role in medical expulsive therapy (MET) of ureteric stones, especially in cases with ureteric stones <10 mm in size.4 The use of alpha-blockers plays a dual role: it aids in the passage of ureteric stones by relaxing ureteric smooth muscle and allowing the insertion of the ureteroscope into ureteral orifice with relative ease, preventing mucosal wall damage.1
While the complication rates of URS have been decreasing, there is still an overall complication rate of 12-15% in most studies. A recent study by Almusafer et al. reported an intraoperative complication rate of 25.35%,5 which suggests the need for better alternatives or adjuncts before going through with the procedure. The study performed by Demir et al. is one such option; to treat patients with tamsulosin preoperatively, instead of during or after the procedure to lower some of the most common complications associated with the operation. This will not only benefit patients to manage their pain but also healthcare facilities in conserving their resources. Less complications for patients would mean less additional procedures to manage those complications, which will, in turn, conserve much-needed manpower in healthcare facilities, especially in remote areas where there is a lack of resources. Moreover, the reduced intra- and post-operative complications will also shorten the hospital stay, improving both financial and clinical patient outcomes. Lastly, preoperative use of tamsulosin will also help decrease prescription and/or repeated usage of opioids, overall.
In conclusion, we believe that these proposed conclusions hold tremendous potential in decreasing complication rates in patients undergoing URS.
The authors declared no competing interest.
RH, AI: Conception, manuscript writing, and final review.