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Percutaneous nephrolithotomy

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (nef-roe-lih-THOT-uh-me) is a procedure used to remove kidney stones from the body when they cannot pass on their own. This procedure uses small telescopes and instruments inserted through a small incision in your back to remove the kidney stones.

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is used most often for larger stones or when other procedures, such as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy or ureteroscopy, are unsuccessful or not possible.


Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is recommended most often in the following situations:

  • Large kidney stones are blocking more than one branch of the collecting system of the kidney, also known as staghorn kidney stones
  • Kidney stones are larger than 0.4 to 0.6 inch (1 to 1.5 centimeter) in diameter
  • Large stones are in the ureter
  • Other therapies have failed
  • The person is obese

Before you undergo percutaneous nephrolithotomy, your doctor will perform several tests, including checking your urine for signs of infection or other problems, blood tests and computerized tomography (CT) to determine where the stones are in your kidney.


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