Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) is a procedure to remove medium-sized or large stones from the kidney by means of a nephroscope passed into the kidney through a small puncture created in the patient's back. A nephroscope uses an ultrasonic or laser probe to break up large kidney stones and suction it out. This procedure is usually done under general anaesthesia or spinal anaesthesia.
To undergo PCNL, it is ideal for the patient to have two functioning kidneys and large sized (2 cm) stone in one of the kidneys with extrarenal pelvis with mild to moderate hydronephrosis.
The advantage of the PCNL procedure as against an open surgery is that PCNL reduces the length of hospital stay, and leaves only a small stab wound scar. Also during the post-operative period, a negligible amount of pain is felt allowing the patient to recover faster.