Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy

Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists

Located in Bellingham, WA - Serving the Pacific Northwest

Approximately 2 in 1,000 people develop kidney stones during their lives, a condition that can cause intense pain. The experienced team at Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists in Bellingham, Washington, offers a wide range of treatments for urological conditions like kidney stones, including percutaneous nephrolithotomy. If you have kidney stones that haven’t passed on their own, call Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists or schedule an appointment online today.

Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are deposits of minerals that form within your urinary tract.

Common kidney stone symptoms include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sharp, intermittent pain in your back and side
  • An urgent need to urinate or increased frequency
  • Blood in your urine

If you have a fever and chills, you should seek emergency attention because this can be a sign of serious infection.


How are kidney stones treated?

The skilled team at Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists offers several treatments for kidney stones, like noninvasive extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) and minimally invasive ureteroscopy.

ESWL breaks up kidney stones with shock waves so you can pass them easier. During ureteroscopy, your urologist inserts a small, flexible camera into your urethra, through your bladder, and into your ureter to locate your stone and break it up.

The urologists at Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists also perform more invasive treatments for kidney stones, like percutaneous nephrolithotomy.


What is percutaneous nephrolithotomy?

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy, or PCNL, is a urological procedure used to treat medium to large kidney stones. This technique enables your urologist to access stones directly through your kidney by placing a small tube in your back.

Your urologist might recommend percutaneous nephrolithotomy for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Large stones in your ureter
  • Kidney stones 0.8 of an inch in diameter or larger
  • Staghorn kidney stones that block more than one area of your renal collecting system
  • Kidney stones that haven’t responded to other treatments

While this treatment is more invasive than ESWL or ureteroscopy, it’s highly effective for treating large numbers of kidney stones at one time.


What can I expect during percutaneous nephrolithotomy?

During PCNL, you receive general anesthesia for your comfort.

Your urologist uses digital imaging like X-ray or ultrasound to locate your kidney to remove the stones. Once your urologist places a tube in your back, they create a small puncture to access your kidney. At this point, your urologist can break up your stones and remove them.

Once your urologist removes your stones, they send them for analysis and to look for signs of infection. They might also leave drainage tubes in your kidney temporarily while you recover.

It’s common to have a short stay in the hospital after having PCNL. You should also avoid activities, including heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling, for up to four weeks.

Call Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists or schedule an appointment online today.