The comparative effectiveness of partial nephrectomy versus radical nephrectomy to preserve kidney function has not been well established. We determined the risk of clinically significant (stage 4 and higher) CKD after radical or partial nephrectomy among veterans treated for kidney cancer in the Veterans Health Administration (2001-2013). Among patients with preoperative eGFR=30 ml/min per 1.73 m(2), the incidence of CKD stage 4 or higher after radical (n=9759) or partial nephrectomy (n=4370) was 7.9% overall. The median time to stage 4 or higher CKD after surgery was 5 months, after which few patients progressed. In propensity score-matched cohorts, partial nephrectomy associated with a significantly lower relative risk of incident CKD stage 4 or higher (hazard ratio, 0.34; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.26 to 0.43, versus radical nephrectomy). In a parallel analysis of patients with normal or near-normal preoperative kidney function (eGFR=60 ml/min per 1.73 m(2)), partial nephrectomy was also associated with a significantly lower relative risk of incident CKD stage 3b or higher (hazard ratio, 0.15; 95% CI, 0.11 to 0.19, versus radical nephrectomy) in propensity score-matched cohorts. Competing risk regression models produced consistent results. Finally, patients treated with a partial nephrectomy had reduced risk of mortality (hazard ratio, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.49 to 0.62). In conclusion, compared with radical nephrectomy, partial nephrectomy was associated with a marked reduction in the incidence of clinically significant CKD and with enhanced survival. Postoperative decline in kidney function occurred mainly in the first year after surgery and appeared stable over time.
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