Urology of Greater Atlanta

Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy - Removing Large Kidney Stones

Urology Of Greater Atlanta

If you have larger kidney stones or other methods have not worked, such as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, then your doctor may recommend you for percutaneous nephrolithotomy. 

It is a minimally invasive surgery with few risks. Still, your safety is our priority. The board-certified urologists at Urology of Greater Atlanta are expertly trained to perform this procedure. 

We operate in Stockbridge, GA, and many other locations throughout Greater Atlanta.

How is Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL) Performed?

PCNL is a type of minimally invasive surgery. It is used to break apart kidney stones into smaller fragments and remove them. 

Your surgeon will first make a small incision in your back. Then they will pass the nephroscope (a miniature fiberoptic scope-like camera) along with other tiny instruments, through the opening into the kidney. 

Then they will break up the kidney stone with ultrasound lithotripsy before removing it.

PCNL usually requires that you stay in the hospital for 3 days.  If you have a kidney stone greater than 1.5cm then you will be a good candidate for PCNL. It is by far the most effective procedure to remove large stones.

How is the Surgery to Remove Kidney Stones Performed?

The percutaneous nephrolithotomy procedure requires general anesthesia. You will be in the operating room for approximately three hours

You will then be transferred to the ward from the recovery room when the anesthesia has worn off.

During the procedure, the surgeon will insert a ureteral stent to prevent post-operative pain in the flank area. This stent will be seen coming out of the urethra along with a drainage tube from the bladder. 

The surgeon will also have a third drain coming from the back incision. Its purpose is to drain the kidney of urine. On the second day after surgery, all three drains are removed, and patients usually go home. 

You will be given oral medication and antibiotics before you are discharged. You can expect to experience a variable level of post-operative pain.

Following one more week, you will return to the clinic to remove the sutures of the back incision.

Two weeks following surgery, you can expect the post-operative pain to disappear. Once the back suture is removed, you can usually return to work.

Follow-up Visits

Following your first post-operative visit, you will need to return a few times to make sure that everything went well. 

Four weeks after the surgery, you will need to do a 24-hour urine collection. This involves collecting your urine over a 24 hour period. It must be kept cool until it reaches the lab. 

You will also return 6 weeks after surgery for an ultrasound. This will determine whether the kidney has healed from the surgery. Then after 2 months have passed from the time of the surgery, you will be asked to return to confirm that all is ok.

Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy Success

You can expect a 90% stone-free rate with PCNL. That is the highest among all other procedures.


PCNL is a safe procedure. There are, however, possible complications including infection, blood loss, a 1% chance of needing a blood transfusion, and possibly the need for additional procedures to completely remove kidney stones.

There are other minimally invasive procedures your urologist may recommend depending on how large the kidney stones are and other factors. One of these procedures is a ureteroscopySurgery is minimally invasive and an outpatient procedure, which means it does not require a hospital stay.

If you’re concerned about kidney stones or have any urinary abnormalities or pain, then call Urology of Greater Atlanta at Stockbridge, GA, or request an appointment online today. 

Stockbridge, Country Club Drive

290 Country Club Drive Suite 100, Stockbridge, GA 30281

Blue Ridge, Blue Ridge Drive

4799 Blue Ridge Drive Suite 107, Blue Ridge, GA 30513

Sandy Springs

1100 Lake Hearn Drive NE STE 320
Atlanta, GA 30342

Griffin, West College Street

230 West College Street Bldg. C, Griffin, GA 30224

Spivey Station

7823 Spivey Station Blvd Suite 210, Jonesboro, GA 30236