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Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy or Nephrolithotripsy

Treatment Overview

This procedure is used to remove kidney stones.

The doctor makes a small incision in your back. The doctor then puts a hollow tube into your kidney and a probe through the tube.

  • In nephrolithotomy, the doctor removes the stone through the tube.
  • In nephrolithotripsy, the doctor breaks the stone up and then removes the fragments of the stone through the tube.

You need either general anesthesia or regional or spinal anesthesia during this procedure. A small tube (catheter) may be inserted into the kidney to drain urine until the kidney heals.

What To Expect

You will be in the hospital for at least 2 to 3 days. Most people are able to return to work within a few weeks.

Why It Is Done

This procedure may be used to treat kidney stones that are:

  • Larger than 2 cm (0.8 in.) in diameter.
  • Large and caused by an infection (staghorn calculi).
  • Blocking the flow of urine out of the kidney.
  • Not broken up by extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL).

How Well It Works

These procedures work for most people with stones in the kidney or ureter.

Risks

Risks of this procedure include:

  • Bleeding.
  • Holes (perforation) in the kidney. They usually heal without further treatment.
  • Injury to other abdominal organs, such as the bladder or colon.
  • Damage that affects normal kidney function.

Credits

Current as of: February 10, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Tushar J. Vachharajani MD, FASN, FACP - Nephrology