Tubeless percutaneous nephrolithotomy

Madhu Sudan Agrawal, Mayank Agrawal
Indian Journal of Urology: IJU: Journal of the Urological Society of India 2010, 26 (1): 16-24

INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVE: Placement of a percutaneous nephrostomy tube for drainage has been an integral part of the standard percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) procedure. However, in recent years, the procedure has been modified to what has been called 'tubeless' PCNL, in which nephrostomy tube is replaced with internal drainage provided by a double-J stent or a ureteral catheter. The objective of this article is to review the evidence-based literature on 'nephrostomy-free' or 'tubeless' PCNL to compare the safety, effectiveness, feasibility, and advantages of tubeless PCNL over standard PCNL.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed a MEDLINE database search to retrieve all published articles relating to 'tubeless' PCNL. Cross-references from retrieved articles as well as articles from urology journals not indexed in MEDLINE, were also retrieved.

RESULTS: The majority of the studies have shown 'tubeless' PCNL to be a safe and economical procedure, with reduced postoperative pain and morbidity and shorter hospital stay. tubeless PCNL has been found to be safe and effective even in patients with multiple stones, complex staghorn stones, concurrent ureteropelvic junction obstruction, and various degrees of hydronephrosis. The technique has been successful in obese patients, children, and in patients with recurrent stones after open surgery.

CONCLUSION: Tubeless PCNL can be used with a favorable outcome in selected patients (stone burden <3 cm, single tract access, no significant residual stones, no significant perforation, minimal bleeding, and no requirement for a secondary procedure), with the potential advantages of decreased postoperative pain, analgesia requirement, and hospital stay. However, for extended indications, like supine PCNL, multiple, complex and staghorn stones, and concurrent PUJ obstruction, the evidence is insufficient and should come from prospective randomized trials.


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