Carbon Footprint in Flexible Ureteroscopy: A Comparative Study on the Environmental Impact of Reusable and Single-Use Ureteroscopes Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE:There are no comparative assessments on the environmental impact of endourologic instruments. We evaluated and compared the environmental impact of single-use flexible ureteroscopes with reusable flexible ureteroscopes. PATIENTS AND METHODS:An analysis of the typical life cycle of the LithoVue™ (Boston Scientific) single-use digital flexible ureteroscope and Olympus Flexible Video Ureteroscope (URV-F) was performed. To measure the carbon footprint, data were obtained on manufacturing of single-use and reusable flexible ureteroscopes and from typical uses obtained with a reusable scope, including repairs, replacement instruments, and ultimate disposal of both ureteroscopes. The solid waste generated (kg) and energy consumed (kWh) during each case were quantified and converted into their equivalent mass of carbon dioxide (kg of CO2) released. RESULTS:Flexible ureteroscopic raw materials composed of plastic (90%), steel (4%), electronics (4%), and rubber (2%). The manufacturing cost of a flexible ureteroscope was 11.49 kg of CO2 per 1 kg of ureteroscope. The weight of the single-use LithoVue and URV-F flexible ureteroscope was 0.3 and 1 kg, respectively. The total carbon footprint of the lifecycle assessment of the LithoVue was 4.43 kg of CO2 per endourologic case. The total carbon footprint of the lifecycle of the reusable ureteroscope was 4.47 kg of CO2 per case. CONCLUSION:The environmental impacts of the reusable flexible ureteroscope and the single-use flexible ureteroscope are comparable. Urologists should be aware that the typical life cycle of urologic instruments is a concerning source of environmental emissions.


publication date

  • 2018