To report our experience with over 300 patients treated with percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PNL), for although PNL was established as a treatment in the 1970s, its use diminished with the introduction of extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL); clinical experience with ESWL showed its limitations, and the role of PNL for treating urolithiasis was redefined, which with improvements in instruments and lithotripsy technology has expanded the capability of percutaneous stone disintegration.
PATIENTS AND METHODS
The study included 315 patients (156 males, 159 females, aged 13–85 years) treated with PNL in our department between 1987 and 2002. The mean (range) stone diameter was 27 (7–52) mm. The kidney was punctured under ultrasonography guidance via a lower-pole calyx whenever possible. The working channel was dilated using an Alken dilator under X-ray control. If necessary, a flexible renoscope was used. Ultrasonic, pneumatic and laser probes were used for lithotripsy.
Four weeks after treatment the total stone-free rate was 96.5%; 45.7% of all patients were primarily stone-free, 21.3% had clinically insignificant residual stones that passed spontaneously within 4 weeks after PNL, and 33% of the patients needed auxiliary measures (a second PNL, ESWL, ureterorenoscopy). Overall, the early complication rate was 50.8%, the most common complications being transient fever (27.6%), clinically insignificant bleeding (7.6%) or both (3.2%); 3.5% of the patients developed urinary tract infections (with no signs of urosepsis), 3.2% had renal colic and 2.9% upper urinary tract obstruction. One patient (0.3%) developed acute pancreatitis after PNL; one died from urosepsis and one needed selective angiographic embolization of the punctured kidney due to bleeding. No patient required transfusions and there were no injuries to neighbouring organs.
These results show that PNL causes no significant blood loss or major complications in almost all patients. Two aspects may especially reduce the potential complications: ultrasonography-guided renal puncture and using PNL in an experienced centre. PNL is a highly efficient procedure that provides fast and safe stone removal.