Randomized and prospective trial comparing tract creation using plasma vaporization with balloon dilatation in percutaneous nephrolithotomy


Correspondence: Po Hui Chiang, 106, Jhong Jheng 3rdRd., Kaohsiung 800, Taiwan.

e-mail: cphtem@yahoo.com.tw


What's known on the subject? and What does the study add?

  • Use of balloon dilatation leads to less blood transfusion rates than metallic dilators. Plasma vaporization leads to less blood loss than balloon dilatation in this study.
  • The study evaluates a novel technique for the creation of a nephrostomy tract for PCNL. Compared with other techniques, plasma vaporization is a safer procedure that causes lesser blood loss, requires a shorter hospital stay, causes less radiation exposure, and enables easier nephrostomy tract creation for PCNL.


  • To evaluate the efficacy and safety of plasma vaporization for tract creation in percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL).

Patients and Methods

  • In this randomized prospective trial we enrolled 65 patients and assigned each to one of two groups: 33 patients were randomly scheduled to undergo plasma vaporization and 32 were scheduled to undergo balloon dilatation for tract creation.
  • A bipolar resectoscope mounted with a plasma vaporization button electrode or a traditional balloon dilator were used to create the nephrostomy tract.


  • The mean blood loss, mean length of hospital stay and mean operating time, stone-free rates and postoperative complications in the two groups were compared using the t-test or chi-squared test (Fisher's exact test).
  • The plasma vaporization group had a significantly lower mean (SD) decrease in haematocrit level (3.5 [2.8]% vs 6.6 [3.3]%; P = 0.02) and a shorter mean (SD) hospital stay (2.6 [1.2] days vs 5.3 [3.4] days; P = 0.0).
  • There were no significant differences in the operating time, stone-free rate or cases of postoperative fever between the two groups.


  • The plasma vaporization technique is safe, leads to less blood loss than the other techniques, and is a simple solution for creating the nephrostomy tract for PCNL.