Doctor's Responses Archive

Viewer Question:
What is percutaneous nephrolithotripsy?

Doctor's Response:
Percutaneous nephrolithotripsy (PNL) is a technique for removing large and/or dense stones and staghorn stones.

PNL is done via a port created by puncturing the kidney through the skin and enlarging the access port to 1 cm (about 3/8 inch) in diameter. There is no surgical incision.

PNL is done under anesthesia and real-time live x-ray control (fluoroscopy). Because x-rays are involved, a super-specialist in radiology (an interventional radiologist) may perform this part of the procedure.

The urologist (an endourologist, another super-specialist) then inserts instruments via this port into the kidney to break up the stone and remove most of the debris from the stone.

Thank you for your question.


Last Editorial Review: 12/30/2004