Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is a minimally-invasive procedure in which a small scope is placed through the back into the kidney.
The kidney stones are then broken up with a combination ultrasound and pneumatic probe or laser and extracted through the back.
At the end of the procedure, a drainage tube (nephrostomy) is left in the kidney to drain the kidney in case blockage of urine flow due to stone fragments, blood clot, or swelling of the ureter occurs.
The ideal patient for percutaneous nephrolithotomy is someone with a large stone (> 2 cm in diameter) for which shock wave lithotripsy and ureteroscopy have low treatment success rates.
The procedure is considered an outpatient procedure but patients are observed overnight. The procedure is done under general anesthesia.