Percutaneous Nephrolithotripsy (PCNL)
Large kidney stones that cannot be treated with extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy or ureteroscopy can be treated with minimally-invasive percutaneous nephrolithotripsy. Typically, this applies to stones larger than 2 cm in diameter, about the size of a marble.
The surgeon makes a small incision in the patient’s back and inserts a scope with a camera. Once the stone is located, instruments are used to break up the stone, and the fragments are suctioned out. Although a small inscision is required, PCNL is minimally invasive when compared to an open surgical procedure , refered to as percutaneous nephrolithotomy,which involves removal of the stone through a large incision in the patient and the kidney and removing the stone in one piece.