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PURPOSE - Continent forms of urinary diversion have become a gold standard of urinary tract reconstruction after radical cystectomy, based mostly on the premise of improved quality of life. It is unclear whether the existing body of literature supports this assumption.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - We performed a systematic review to determine if differences exist in health related quality of life (HRQOL) outcomes among different types of urinary diversion after radical cystectomy. A MEDLINE search was performed inclusive of the dates 1966 to January 2004. Inclusion criteria included adult patients, patients with bladder cancer, comparative studies, original research, primary study outcome related to quality of life, and use of a quality of life instrument to measure outcomes. Only studies comparing neobladder, continent reservoir, or conduit diversion were included.
RESULTS - Of 378 initial articles 15 studies met all inclusion criteria. None of the studies were randomized trials. Only 1 study was prospective. Of 15 studies 10 (67%) used some type of previously validated HRQOL instrument, 10 (67%) used some form of ad hoc instrument, 11 (73%) used bladder cancer disease specific instruments, while 9 (60%) used general instruments. Only 1 of the bladder cancer specific instruments had been previously validated. Common limitations included unvalidated HRQOL instruments, use of general HRQOL instruments only, lack of baseline data, cross- sectional analysis, and retrospective study design.
CONCLUSIONS - To date, the current body of published literature is insufficient to conclude that 1 form of urinary diversion is superior to another based on HRQOL outcomes. Future studies should attempt to incorporate prospective data collection, longer term followup and validated disease specific HRQOL instruments.