PCNL (Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy)

PCNL is one of the most effective treatment options for patients with larger stones. It is considered to be a minimally invasive procedure but is more involved than ESWL lithotripsy or ureteroscopy.

PCNL is typically performed when other treatment modalities are not efficacious due to stone burden or location.

The treatment is done in hospital with general anesthesia.  PCNL typically requires 1-3 day hospital stay.

More than 66,000 PCNL procedures are performed each year in the United States.

Who is a Candidate for PCNL?

PCNL is an optimal procedure for patients with large or multiple kidney stones, typically larger than 1-2 cm, complex anatomy and in patients who are not ideal candidates for less invasive procedures such as ESWL or laser lithotripsy.  Larger stones in the lower pole of the kidney are often treated with PCNL as well.

How is PCNL performed?

PCNL involves placement a small tube called percutaneous nephrostomy in the kidney right next to the stone. Following this, the opening is enlarged enough to allow insertion of a small instrument called nephroscope into the kidney collecting system where the stones accumulate. Once the stones are visualized using a camera, they are broken using ultrasonic energy or Holmium laser technology and the fragments are retrieved for biochemical analysis.

Once all stones are gone, typically a ureteral stent and/or percutaneous nephrostomy are placed.  These are removed postoperatively during the recovery period.

Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger is a fellowship trained board certified urologist with expertise in treating kidney stones. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with renal colic or kidney stones and requires PCNL, make an appointment to take advantage of Dr. Shteynshlyuger’s expert advice and surgical skills.

Last modified on October 6, 2013