Developments in technique and technology: the effect on the results of percutaneous nephrolithotomy for staghorn calculi


Mahesh Desai, Urology, Muljibhai Patel Urological Hospital, Dr V.V. Desai Road, Nadiad, Gujarat 387001, India.



To review the development of the technique of percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL), for ease of learning and development of instrumentation for staghorn calculi at our centre since 1991, and to assess the results and outcomes.


We retrospectively analysed the hospital records of 773 patients (632 males and 141 females, 834 renal units) who underwent PCNL for staghorn calculi at our centre from January 1991 to August 2008. We divided the patients into three groups depending on the changes in treatment policy, global trends and advances in equipment as follows: the first 200 cases (group I) from January 1991 to December 1996 (216 renal units); the next 200 (group II) from January 1997 to December 2001 (212 renal units); and the last 373 (group III) from January 2002 to August 2008 (406 renal units).


The mean (sd, range) operative duration in groups I, II and III, respectively, were 138.2 (52.7, 60–310), 121.4 (42.8, 70–250) and 112.5 (51.5, 55–310) min; the decrease in haemoglobin level was 3.2, 2.6 and 1.6 g/dL, respectively, and continued to decrease with improvements in technique. With increasing experience, the number of stages required for stone clearance and the number of tracts required decreased exponentially. Most of the severe complications occurred early in our experience. The stone clearance rate in groups I, II and III was 81%, 86% and 93%, respectively, after completing the procedure; the overall clearance rate with observation/auxiliary procedures was 86%, 89% and 96%, respectively. The mean hospital stay for groups I, II and III was 11.1 (3.9, 7–25), 9.5 (3.4, 5–22) and 7.1 (3.6, 4–28) days, respectively.


The percutaneous management of staghorn calculi requires considerable expertise. Our data suggest that ‘multiperc’ PCNL is difficult to learn and requires experience. Although over the years our results improved, complete clearance remains a challenge. A constant review and application of newer techniques and results will improve the overall clearance rates further.