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Percutaneous NephroLithotomy (PCNL)

Percutaneous NephroLithotomy (PCNL)

What is it?

Percutaneous NephroLithotomy (PCNL) is the preferred technique for treating larger kidney stones (over 2cm in diameter) located within the kidney. It involves keyhole surgery that is performed through a 1cm incision in the skin (see diagram). A mini-PERC is similar in approach, but represents a refinement in the technique due to having smaller cameras, better stone lasers and specialized tools. The incision that is made in the skin is much smaller and allows for quicker patient recovery and results in a safer procedure.


What are the advantages?

  • Allows for large or complicated stones to be treated in a minimally invasive fashion, which in the past this would have necessitated a large incision, and longer hospital stay.
  • Hospital stay is now 2-4 days, and the out of hospital recovery time is significantly shorter than the traditional open surgical approaches.
  • Quicker return to work.

What are the disadvantages?

  • Compared to traditional techniques in dealing with large complex stones, there are no disadvantages.
  • Improvements in techniques and equipment have allowed this type of surgery to be carried out more safely amongst subspecialty trained surgeons