Mini PCNL: Minimally Invasive Treatment for Large Kidney Stones.

Mini PCNL: Minimally Invasive Treatment for Large Kidney Stones.

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A man sits on his bed and puts his hand on his lower back indicating he is in pain.

Each year, more than 500,000 people visit an emergency room because of a kidney stone. People with kidney stones can often experience flank or back pain. The pain from kidney stones can be so severe that some people even compare it to childbirth. Other symptoms of a kidney stone include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Infection in the urine, which can cause urine to smell bad and look cloudy
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Severe pain in the flank or groin

The treatment of larger kidney stones can be complicated. One of the most effective ways we treat kidney larger stones is through a highly specialized procedure called a tubeless mini percutaneous nephrolithotomy (mini PCNL). This minimally invasive surgery allows us to remove kidney stones through tiny incisions and provides patients with quicker and smoother recoveries, especially compared to treatments that were used in the past.

For example, we saw one patient with a large kidney stone that was blocking his kidney and causing considerable back pain and nausea. He was concerned because he thought it would require multiple surgeries and several days of hospitalization to remove the large kidney stones. However, we were able to perform a tubeless mini PCNL on him. He had surgery at 8:30 a.m. and was home by 1 p.m. with no pain or discomfort.

Benefits of mini PCNL.

What separates mini PCNL from a standard PCNL is that it’s performed through a smaller opening and with smaller instruments. As a result, patients experience:

  • Less discomfort
  • Less pain
  • No drainage tube in the back
  • Quicker recoveries

How outpatient tubeless mini PCNL works.

The word “percutaneous” means that surgeons are going through the skin into the kidney, and “nephrolithotomy” means that the kidney stone is being broken and removed. A PCNL begins with us making a small incision in the skin. Then, a small camera is inserted into the kidney and a specialized instrument is used to break the kidney stone up into smaller pieces and suction the pieces out.

Following surgery, patients generally return home the same day with limited pain. Unlike a traditional PCNL, with a tubeless PCNL, we send patient home without a tube in their back. 

The perfect candidates for mini PCNLs are people who have intermediate-sized kidney stones—usually larger than a centimeter but less than a full staghorn calculi, which is a stone that occupies the entire kidney. However, individuals with larger kidney stones can still be candidates for tubeless same-day surgery. 

Meanwhile, people with very small kidney stones may be candidates for techniques such as ureteroscopy and laser lithotripsy—the use of a tiny camera and laser to break and remove stones in the kidney and ureter—or extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy—a noninvasive technique that uses a machine to deliver shockwaves to the back to break up kidney stones. 

Talk with your doctor to determine which technique is best for you.

Mini #PCNL is one of the best ways to remove #KidneyStones. Compared to past techniques, it leads to less pain, less discomfort, and quicker recoveries. via @MedStarWHC @dmarchalik

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Expert care for all types of kidney stones.

Our urology team performs a high volume of mini PCNLs at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. We are one of the only centers in the Mid-Atlantic that is currently offering tubeless mini PCNL, and we’ve now performed hundreds of successful tubeless procedures to treat kidney stones.

We receive referrals from urologists throughout the DC metro area. They often recommend us to their patients with complicated cases, such as large or multiple stones. However, the mini PCNL treatment produces excellent results for smaller, less complex kidney stones, too. Often, we see patients with kidney stones for whom other procedures have been ineffective. 

Mini PCNL is the best treatment we have for select patients to not only eliminate the kidney stone but immediately relieve their pain. We never want patients to have to suffer through the pain of kidney stones—talk with your doctor about whether the treatment might work for you.

Our team-based approach to care allows us to review images of kidney stones with interventional radiology partners for complex cases. We always consider the patient’s total health, such as heart and vascular health, when planning a kidney stone surgery. After surgery, we follow patients for several years to recommend diet and other health changes to reduce the risk of kidney stones or other kidney conditions in the future.

Need treatment for kidney stones?

Schedule an appointment with one of our urologists today for expert care.

Call 202-877-7011 or Request an Appointment

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