Pathologic response and surgical outcomes in patients undergoing nephrectomy following receipt of immune checkpoint inhibitors for renal cell carcinoma

Nirmish Singla, Roy Elias, Rashed A. Ghandour, Yuval Freifeld, Isaac A. Bowman, Leonid Rapoport, Mikhail Enikeev, Jay Lohrey, Solomon L. Woldu, Jeffrey C. Gahan, Aditya Bagrodia, James Brugarolas, Hans J. Hammers, Vitaly Margulis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the pathologic response, safety, and feasibility of nephrectomy following receipt of immune checkpoint inhibition (ICI) for renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Methods: Patients who underwent nephrectomy for RCC after exposure to nivolumab monotherapy or combination ipilimumab/nivolumab were reviewed. Primary surgical outcomes included operative time (OT), estimated blood loss (EBL), length of stay (LOS), readmission rates, and complication rates. Pathologic response in the primary and metastatic sites constituted secondary outcomes. Results: Eleven nephrectomies (10 radical, 1 partial) were performed in 10 patients after ICI with median postoperative follow-up 180 days. Six patients received 1 to 4 cycles of ipilimumab/nivolumab, while 5 received 2 to 12 infusions of nivolumab preoperatively. Five surgeries were performed laparoscopically, and 4 patients underwent concomitant thrombectomy. One patient exhibited complete response (pT0) to ICI, and 3/4 patients who underwent metastasectomy for hepatic, pulmonary, or adrenal lesions exhibited no detectable malignancy in any of the metastases resected. No patients experienced any major intraoperative complications, and all surgical margins were negative. Median OT, EBL, and LOS were 180 minutes, 100 ml, and 4 days, respectively. Four patients experienced a complication, including 3 that were addressed with interventional radiology procedures. One patient died of progressive disease >3 months after surgery, and 1 patient succumbed to pulmonary embolism complicated by sepsis. No complications or readmissions were noted in 6 patients. Conclusion: Nephrectomy following ICI for RCC is safe and technically feasible with favorable surgical outcomes and pathologic response. Timing of the nephrectomy relative to checkpoint dosing did not seem to impact outcome. Biopsies of lesions responding radiographically to ICI may warrant attention prior to surgical excision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)924-931
Number of pages8
JournalUrologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Complications
  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors
  • Nephrectomy
  • Renal cell carcinoma
  • Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Urology


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