Purpose: We performed a systematic review and critique of the literature of the relationship between hospital or surgeon volume and health outcomes in patients undergoing radical surgery for cancer of the bladder, kidney or prostate. Materials and Methods: Four electronic databases were searched to identify studies that describe the relationship between hospital or surgeon volume and health outcomes. Results: All included studies were performed in North America. A total of 12 studies were found that related hospital volume to outcomes. For radical prostatectomy and cystectomy all 8 included studies showed improvement in at least 1 outcome measure with increasing volume and never deterioration. For nephrectomy the 4 included studies produced conflicting results. Four studies were found that related surgeon volume to outcomes. All radical prostatectomy and cystectomy studies showed that some outcomes were better with higher surgeon volume and never deterioration. We did not find any studies of the effect of surgeon volume on outcomes after nephrectomy. The 3 studies of the combined effect of hospital and surgeon volume on outcomes after radical prostatectomy or cystectomy suggest that high volume hospitals have better outcomes, in part because of the effect of surgeon volume and vice versa. Conclusions: Outcomes after radical prostatectomy and cystectomy are on average likely to be better if these procedures are performed by and at high volume providers. For radical nephrectomy the evidence is unclear. The impact of volume based policies (increasing volume to improve outcomes) depends on the extent to which "practice makes perfect" explains the observed results. Further studies should explicitly address selective referral and confounding as alternative explanations. Longitudinal studies should be performed to evaluate the impact of volume based policies.
- Health care evaluation mechanisms
- Urogenital neoplasms