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


Surgical planning and access are important factors for successful stone-free outcomes in patients undergoing percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL); however, PCNL has a high risk of haemorrhagic complications (reported transfusion rates of up to 12% [1]), which curtail surgery and result in suboptimum outcomes. Access to the pelvicalyceal system remains the major risk for bleeding, often associated with an off-set tract, splitting of the infundibulum/pelvis and/or angulated sheath, and requiring inordinate torque. The ideal tract dilatation method is still being debated, with differing reports on operating time and blood loss [2-5].

The present study evaluates a new method for percutaneous renal access, reporting a shorter operating time, a lower drop in haemoglobin levels and a shorter hospital stay, with no patient requiring transfusion. A patient selection bias might exist, which would explain the low complication rate. Also, the vaporization bubbles and the bleeding could result in difficult views, requiring a high level of expertise in plasma vaporization. The authors did not observe peri-nephric space fluid extravasation or dislodging of the single safety wire. Despite the promising outcome, the reproducibility of this technique remains to be seen, but this is a promising account of reducing bleeding and operating times and maintaining better visualization in PCNL.