Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is an inpatient invasive procedure in which the surgeon removes the kidney stone(s) through a small incision in the skin. Generally, this procedure is used to remove stones larger than 2 cm or irregularly shaped stones. This procedure is usually performed when less invasive procedures are not feasible or have failed to provide the desired outcome.
Typically, the length of the surgery is three to four hours. The surgery is performed by making a small 1 cm incision in the patient’s flank area. A tube is placed through the incision into the kidney under x-ray guidance. A small telescope is then passed through the tube in order to visualize the stone, break it up and remove it from the body. If necessary a laser or other device called a lithotripter may be used to break up the stone before it can be removed. This procedure has resulted in significantly less post-operative pain, a shorter hospital stay, and earlier return to work and daily activities when compared to open stone surgery.