Breakage Costs in Flexible Ureteroscopy: Digital vs. Fiberoptic Modalities

Published:November 15, 2022DOI:



      To compare the maintenance costs of digital flexible ureteroscopes (DFU) versus fiberoptic flexible ureteroscopes (FFU) to understand the long-term financial impact associated with breakage in a flexible ureteroscopy (f-URS) program.


      Data for breakage of FFU and DFU at an academic institution from 2019 to 2021 were obtained from our vendor (Karl Storz) and analyzed by month. Correlation test was used to evaluate significant differences in number of procedures, number of breakage events, breakage rates, and repair cost per month. Cumulative analyses were utilized to examine the number of procedures before failure (time to failure - TTF) and repair costs per procedure (RCpP).


      We performed a total of 2,154 f-URS, including 1,355 with FFU and 799 with DFU (P<.001). Although we found a higher number of breakage events in FFU (n=124) than DFU (n=73) (P<.001), the overall breakage rate was similar, 9.9% vs. 8.8%, respectively (P=0.86). On cumulative analysis, both modalities reached the same TTF plateau (11 cases) after 18 months. After 400 cases, the RCpP for DFU was 1.25 times higher than for FFU (P=0.04).


      Overall, we found no difference in overall scope breakage rates between DFU and FFU. Although there was no difference in TTF over time, at the beginning DFU displayed considerable higher durability, leading to lower RCpP. Furthermore, DFU's endurance leveled off to FFU over time, resulting in higher RCpP after 400 cases. This finding may be explained by the presence of renewed scopes after repair.


      DFU (digital flexible ureteroscope), f-URS (flexible ureteroscopy), FFU (fiberoptic flexible ureteroscope), PGY (post-graduate year), RCpP (repair cost per procedure), suFU (single-use flexible ureteroscope), TCpP (total cost per procedure), TTF (time to failure)
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