Percutaneous nephrolithotripsy

Diagram of PCNL

Percutaneous stone surgery is usually used for larger stones. A small hollow tube is placed directly through a patient’s back into the kidney through which larger instruments can then be used to fragment and extract the stone(s). Although this approach typically requires a hospital stay and is more invasive than ureteroscopy or extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy, it is often the most effective method for treating  large stones quickly and completely. For more information on comparing the surgical options for kidney stones, see our comparison chart.

Percutaneous stone surgery may also be indicated in certain situations where the ureter below a  kidney is obstructed, such as in ureteropelvic junction obstructions, where a ureteroscope cannot be advanced from below.

Fast facts about percutaneous nephrolithotripsy:

  • Typical operative time: 1-2 hours
  • Usual hospital stay: 1-2 days
  • Average number of days before going back to work: about one week
  • Average number of days before feeling back to normal: about two weeks

PCNL instruments photo

A photograph showing a nephroscope used for percutaneous nephrolithotripsy. The gray tube around the instrument is the sheath placed temporarily into a kidney to allow access. A pen is shown for size comparison.



Video of percutaneous nephrolithotripsy procedure.



Video of percutaneous nephrolithotripsy procedure of a soft matrix stone. This type of stone is rare and primarily composed of  soft tissue elements. It is usually associated with infection.

82 Responses to Percutaneous nephrolithotripsy

  1. Elaine says:

    After reading the previous comments and being scared witless (before I had a 3-hour operation last Monday, 1 August), I thought that I should add my comments, hopefully to reassure anyone who will be having a PCNL in the future.

    The 3-hour operation was longer than anticipated. In recovery I was given morphine and which alleviated the discomfort. After which, I had no pain, just a bit of stiffness (like a pulled muscle). I did not have a stent or wake up with a catheter. However, a catheter was fitted later because I couldn’t pass urine. This was removed about 10 hours later; I passed urine and was allowed to go home. I have experienced no pain. I have had to keep drinking in order to avoid a UTI and to keep the kdneys working in good order – no great hardship except for having to get up several times in the night.

    I had the operation 5 days ago; I’m resting but moving around frequently and I am feeling well. The wound is heeling quickly and I expect this to continue. I have taken ibuprofen a couple of times to alleviate a stiff neck and a headache (ibuprofine also work as an anti-inflammatory).

    I used a self-hypnosis download (for anxiety and fast healing) before going into hospital and have used the fast healing download a couple of times since. They work!

    I am not bragging or boasting – I just want to reassure others who are anxious about will be having this procedure.

    Good luck and fast healing to you all.

    • Gina says:

      Thanks! That is good to hear.. I go in next month for that surgery.. I was blasted two times before.. 2yrs ago.. now with this large one I have.. they want to go through my back… hopefully clear everything out ? It’s been a ruff few years with these stones.. ✌️️ Thanks again.

  2. Cathy E says:

    I have had constant kidney infections since Dec 2015. After about 4 infections treated with antibiotics and numerous other infections I just treated with plenty of water and pain relief my GP ordered blood tests and an ultrasound. The weekend before my ultrasound I developed my worst infection yet. Painkillers would not touch the pain. I had an extremely hot, hot water bottle constantly on my back. I went to an out of hours GP to get antibiotics and it still would not shift. On my week off sick I went for my ultrasound. After a week off, I felt slightly better, returned to work. Came home, still felt bad, rang GP and got some different antibiotics! Went to bed – and after a week of thinking, this pain is so bad I am going to A & E, I woke up and thought, I can’t take it anymore I am going to A & E! Instead of going to work I took a taxi to my nearest A & E. They did bloods, X Ray, said I was extremely constipated (the pain was so bad – I couldn’t go). I thought I have wasted there time, they are sending me home with laxatives.
    Then another Dr called me in, said they were admitting me, I had a small bowel obstruction, and they were sending me for a CT scan. Was sent up to a ward – then a Urology Dr came to tell me they had found a large Staghorn kidney stone and they would quite likely fir a nephrostomy bag – as I had a bad infection in left kidney also.
    Had the procedure next day – in hospital for another 2 days. They then sent me home with more antibiotics and pain killers – and told as my stone was quite big it would most likely be a few weeks before my PCNL op to remove them….
    Been at home 2 weeks – have a provisional op of Aug (over 2 months away). Just hoping it wont be too long – have to wait another 2 weeks to see if they will move me forward. Already had to go back to A&E for them to flush my blocked tube.

  3. S.c.upadhyay says:

    After pcnl operation I am feeling frquent urination and burning in urination and also urin once passing urin again I feel to pass urin. Diring night hours I have to go for passing urin 5to 6 times. I also finding difficulry in stool passing it has hardened in side.
    please advise remady.

  4. tricia says:

    Just had a stagehorn removed March 30, 2016. My kidney function in that kidney was at 20%. The hospital sent me home after surgery. It was horrific to say the least. The stent unbearable. The external urine collection bag a nightmare.
    Had to have additio al stone removal last week on tuesday. I’ve been sick ever since. Dr removed second stent.
    I’ve been unable to eat and hold food down, and I e been passing stones with painful consistency daily

    Don’t even want to call Dr for fear of another surgery.
    Advice, if you have to have surgery, demand to stay in hospital. My insurance is cheap and sent me home.
    I’ve never been so sick in my life since the first March 30 surgery

  5. nourina mooraby says:

    It is recomendable to drive after pcnl?

    • Terri A says:

      Just had this done 2 weeks ago. No driving home from the hospital after the surgery due to narcotic pain meds. The only restrictions after getting home was to not drive if I was on the narcotic stuff – I was able to get by on extra strength Tylenol, and don’t get it wet. It’s not comfortable so I didn’t even want to drive and didn’t after my post-op appointment when I was able to go with just a bandaid instead of the pouch or gauze over the incision (uncomfortable to lean against).

  6. JB Davis says:

    Tomorrow is my PCNL. Apprehensive, nervous, and looking forward to it as well. I’m marked up, wearing medical bracelets, and am ready to go in right now. Wish me luck.

    • tricia says:

      How did your surgery go. I had my first surgery on the 30th as well.

      • JB Davis says:

        Had a renal exam last week (still have the bruising from where the tech blew my veins) which seems to show very little improvement in the flow (but what do I know, I didn’t major in reading xrays/gamma rays/whatever rays)…what I did see was the isotopes collecting much more slowly in the left one than in the right one, then emptying much more slowly as well. UPJ? Scar Tissue? Anyway, I’ve a 3-4 month followup with the doctor in 3 weeks. We’ll see where to go next. As far as the procedure itself, I compare it favourably to the ureteroscopies I had last year. Those didn’t work too well. I feel like I recovered more quickly after the PCNL though I was out of work longer. Bleeding after the ureteroscopies was much worse. Pain was tough with both types for me, and stent removal…well I’m sure you know how lovely that can be. I hope you are doing better.

  7. Melinda says:

    I’ve been faced with so many kidney stones, first round I was 28 and I had 27 passed all but the last one. Now I’m almost 44 had a surgery two weeks ago unsuccessful, was sent home without pain meds and the stent was miserable! Now I have stones in both kidneys and I absolutely hate the thoughts of another surgery. The stent is such a painful problem for me. I bleed heavy and I almost feel paralyzed (like I forgot how to pee). Does anyone else have that feeling? And I hate the stents more than anything. Like I said both kidneys are full the right has a 15mm. I just wanna give up. No one in my family or friends have had stones so they just feel like I’m being a wimp! Please help! I’m feeling desperate and depressed!

    • Amber says:

      I have also had many kidney stones first round I was 15 an had 1 in each kidney very small 2mm. Last year I had them removed the basket way and some were 6mm some larger and smaller but had over 40 in my left kidney and 23 in my right kidney. I had a stent placed after and ti had horrible time with the stent the pain was unbearable and I bled all the time and also felt paralyzed. Now I am facing a different method with a different doctor because I have 2Cm stones in both kidneys. I will be seeing a special to figure out why I keep getting them. I don’t drink a lot of pop my diet is decent and I would say I’m over all healthy. No one really understands me either because they don’t go through it. So trust me I know your pain and it’s frustrating when people just look at you crazy or thinking your not really in that much pain. Especially when sometimes the pain can come out of no where. To me if feels like something is just taking a knife and stabbing it deep into my side back area and twisting it. I wish you all the best of luck.

    • letitia hill says:

      Omg I have to have a tube in me I’m scared cause I keep reading all y’all stuff

    • letitia hill says:

      Omg I have to have a tube in me I’m scared cause I keep reading all y’all stuff I’m so scared

  8. JB Davis says:

    When is the pcnl procedure warranted? As background, I’ve got a 2+ cm stone in my left kidney. 6 months ago I was soundwaved, then lasered which resulted in the stone being basically split into two main pieces and a few little “pebbles.” Well as of yesterday at the x-ray the two main pieces looked as though they had re-fused, and the single stone looked even bigger. I mentioned the pcnl a few months ago to my urologist who said that the stone was “in the wrong place.” Where should it be for someone to finally have the opportunity to take it out of me? I’m ready for this to move along now…the blood, the pain, the aching, the all of it…how can I convince her to take the next step and get this thing gone? Or, is she right, and I’m just going to have to go back through the laser/soundwaves again? Or? Or? Ugh.

  9. Tamara says:

    Just had a PCNL done for a 20mm non stag horn stone with 4 other stones, 5mm or less also in the kidney. Be sure your surgeon has experience with PCNL!

    So much can go wrong if they don’t have experience. My surgeon studied at The Stone Center at the Memphis VA.

    The surgery can we a long procedure with radiology first to place guide wires and all the pre-Op CTs, etc. Expect to spend a night at the hospital even though the surgery is generally considered to be an outpatient procedure. Had a stent from kidney to bladder for 3 weeks which is removed in the Dr’s office. No external drain tube and about a 1.5 cm incision. Again, be sure your surgeon has experience.

    Home for a week from work, then light duty – no lifting more than 10 lbs or strenuous activities. Be sure to walk every day; at least 3 short walks. Helps in your recovery.

  10. Samantha says:

    I had two pcnls done one he put the needle in and he wasn’t comfortable were it was
    Then the second the next day was successful but, he could not get to the 1.7cm stone but left the stent in, so now I am trying to figure what’s next to get the big stone out
    But I am so sick of all this already and what it to be over with. I am ready to just throw my hands up and say just do the freaking open kidney this is becoming to much for me I got 3 kids I needs to be healthy for I am a single mom and it needs to be done and taking care of already. And omg the stent is driving me nuts!!!

  11. Joe Gabele says:

    I’ve been a factory for stones and usually every couple of years I’ve had a lithotrypsy procedure. (I had five over the years.) Since I had complications a couple of times, my urologist suggested a PCNL procedure. OMG

    Turns out he was a rookie at the procedure and several issues came up. First off they waited too long prior to tube insertion and over-hydrated me, so the first tube was incorrect. After healing and another attempt, the tube went OK.

    Next problem: The doctor was on time but the anesthesiologist was late and the whole surgery was rushed, so the doctor told my wife “…he is going to be mad because we put a hole through the wall in his kidney…” The procedure was halted for me to, again. heal up.

    Finally the procedure was done and I was told they think they got all of the stones. The hospital dropped me off of the XRay machine, (I TOLD them the foot rest was loose…) then I got a septic infection, finally, when all was deemed ‘OK’, the doctor came into the room to ‘examine’ the tube area. Without warning he yanked it out and I thought I was going to DIE… (The whole ordeal had me out of work for 38 days.)

    Now years later, I have been dealing with dull pain in my same kidney that has come and gone, sometimes requiring me to lay motionless for hours on one side so it ‘calms down’ until I can live with it. (I despise pain meds.)

    I am scared of what might be wrong, yet I am going to try another urologist soon to see what might be going bad. (Scared!!)
    Has anyone had anything like this? Maybe scar tissue in my kidney??

    • Mrs. Ronnie says:

      I had my PCNL in February and I’m still experiencing pain in the right shank. Dr. said the stag horn calculi stone was a monster, but surgery went well. I’m nervous now about this pain! Going to see my PCP on Friday and will ask if I need to be referred back to my uroligist.

      My surgery involved having the tube placed in my right kidney, being sent home with pained and coming back to the hospital the next morning. The pain was awful!

      To answer your question about scar tissue, I’m not sure if this could be a possibility with laparoscpic (sp?) procedures. Guess I’ll do some more Internet searching and definitely ask my doctor on Friday.

      I hope you get better soon.

  12. Karen Little says:

    Today is Monday Wednesday Im having a PNL for a stag horn that has been in my left kidney for years it’s 5 inches long 3.5 inches wide the first PNL was unsuccessful so Duke Univesrsity is doing this! I’m scared to death I haven’t had any pain just the i occasional back ache I’ve been in chronic kidney pain for so long Im surprised when they tell me I’m trying to pass a huge piece of a sto rand yet no symptomd my pain receptors have gotten use to it, but after reading most of these stories stents a chance of sepsis Im terrified! Oh and I was told I will be on meds to prevent anymore stag horns for life!!’n

  13. Karen Little says:

    Today is Monday Wednesday Im having a PNL for a stag horn that has been in my left kidney for years it’s 5 inches long 3.5 inches wide the first PNL was unsuccessful so Duke Univesrsity is doing this! I’m scared to death I haven’t had any pain just the i occasional back ache I’ve been in chronic kidney pain for so long Im surprised when they tell me I’m trying to pass a huge piece of a sto rand yet no symptomd my pain receptors have gotten use to it, but after reading most of these stories stents a chance of sepsis Im terrified!

  14. DR Sravika Pranita says:

    You have good treatment available in Homeopathy,if you have stones in kidneys ,its better to use the below medicines
    1. Berberis Vel-Q 5 drops 2 times a day in 2 teaspoonful water
    2. Lycopodium-200 6 pills 2 times a day
    3. Clear stone-SBL(company name)- 15 drops three times of day.

    Food Habits – Take 4 to 5 liters of water (Coconut Water,Carrot Juice,Pine Apple Juice,Lemon Juice)

  15. Alison Newell says:

    I have just had PCNL surgery. In August last year, 2014, I was admitted emergency with kidney stone pain (once you’ve had it before you are able to recognise it immediately. Scan revealed a massive staghorn kidney stone in my left kidney. I developed sepsis and after the stent was inserted, I went into sepsis shock and nearly died on the operating table. I also went into respiratory distress and ended up on a ventilator in intensive case and then transferred to HDU. They schedule an operation to remove the stone. I ended up waiting 5 months for surgery, in that time I had terrible stent pain, bleeding and numerous infections. I felt my life was over taken by my need to pee all the time.
    On the 27th January this year, 2015 I had a 6 hour operation, they removed 80% and had to have 3 units of blood during the operation as I bled a lot. They have inserted another stent and aim to blast the remain 20% which is apparently two horns that are left.
    Has anyone had a lot of pain following PCNL surgery. Straight after the operation I had very little pain, but once they removed the drain in my back the pain at the incision site has become increasingly more painful. I am now 12 days post surgery. My incision is approximately 3 inches long and the wound is still wet and so the stitches have been left in till tomorrow. The pain in my back prevents me from sleeping and now I’ve got stent pain again, blood in my urine and constantly needing to pee, even if there is nothing there. Am I the only one who’s had this post op pain?
    I’m due to fly to Las Vegas on the 23.04.2015, 10 weeks away to get married. I’m praying they will have removed the other 20% before then. My consultant and radiographer have said it was the biggest staghorn kidney stone they had ever seen, it filled the whole of my kidney, chambers and was half way down my ureathra and also had grown into all the tubes going in and out of the kidney.
    I consider myself to be luck to still be here. Sepsis shock was very scary.

    • Liky says:

      I had a PCNL done on May 27th. For me it was a horrible experience. I arrived at 7:30 am for surgery at 9:00 am they took me in to place the guide wires. I had to wait 2 1/2 hours before they took me into surgery. During the waiting I felt a constant urge to pee as the guide wires were applying pressure on my bladder. They took 2 1/2 hours to operate, the huge staghorn calculous was hard to break towards the end according to my Uro. I ended up needing a blood transfusion due to being very anemic and I also developed an infection after they pulled out the tubes out of my kidney. I stayed 6 days in the hospital. Surgery pain is just about gone but some days still aches a bit but now I’ve been getting kidney pain on a daily basis. Both kidneys! I thought that was supposed to improve after surgery well it hasn’t. Tired of being in pain.

    • Bonnie Luzadder says:

      I also had one of the biggest staghorns ever seen, I will be going back into surgery in 2 weeks for my 4th surgery to try to remove it. First one was PCNL and was horrible, the nephrostomy tubes I went home with were miserable. Spent 6 days in hospital with severe sepsis. Terrible, terrible pain and only got out 80percent of the stone. Second surgery was lithotripsy and a stent placed, again sepsis. This surgery another lithotripsy which was completely ineffective because they couldn’t even reach the rest of the staghorn. So now we go back to PCNL and I’m telling you I am dreading the neph tubes, like I DON’don’t even think I can do it, the pain, the not being able to get comfortable, not being able to hold my children. I DON’T think I can do it. I am praying to God, I don’t become septic again and maybe won’t need a neph tube!

  16. Diane says:

    I cannot wait until I see my Dr in Jan. My stone is causing me such pain. Bring the PCNL! Let’s do this!!!

  17. Lucy Webster says:

    I had CT scan after being admitted to hospital with sickness and kidney pain. I have 5cm staghorn and I am seeing consultant later today. I have a stent in and find it very uncomfortable and keen to have it removed. I was wondering if there is approximate time from diagnosis to removal of stone as PCNL operation please?

  18. Diane says:

    I have a 2.5 cm stone and hopefully this is the way I’m headed. This is a repeat of 2007 for me except they tried lithotripsy first and OMG MY STENT PAIN!!! Not to mention nothing was passing and the hypdronephrosis was worsening. I had to have the stent out (best feeling ever!), a nephrostomy tube inserted, and then 2 PCNL (because he missed the stone the first time). I don’t want a stent. I don’t want it. Don’t don’t don’t. It hurts so bad. They’re going to have to sedate me for as long as I have one if they want to put one in. Sounds like we’ve all had troubles. Here’s to praying for us all.

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Diane!

      I have been conversing with Jane about PCNL. Agree with you and the stent pain, but just to let you know – don’t assume it will be as bad again. I had 2 stents placed on same side and the two could not have been more different. And then again very different from the other side. I don’t know if they used a different type or what, but one was much more comfortable (that of course being a relative term) than the other. Now, two different practitioners placed them…so, I just don’t know So, if you do need one try to think positively. I gave them the evil eyeball with the second placement and was very vocal about how uncomfortable I had been before, but I doubt I intimidated them into being kinder. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be honest with them – maybe they can make it more tolerable? Good Luck!

  19. Jane Westerman says:

    Hi Kathy
    I am pleased you are doing really well. I have recently spent 6 days in hospital with lots of pain. I have had numerous different types of scans and xrays and on Tuesday the doctor advised me that the best option would be to remove the kidney, but they would make their final decision after I had had my kidney x ray, which I had Wednesday, however on leaving hospital on Thursday they still did not have the results for that. So looks like I will have to hang on til the 20th when I have my consultant appointment to hear what will be removed, kidney or just stone. I found out after asking one of the doctors who showed my my stone on the ct scan that it was 36.5 mm (3.65 cm) so large for a normal kidney stone but I think about average for a staghorn. I will let you know how I get on, on the 20th. I left hospital with 9 different types of medicines, and two of them are for bladder spasms, and they do help. However I have got yet another infection so am suffering similar problems to the stent as a result of that. Hope you continue to improve. Jane xx

    • Jane Westerman says:

      Just to let everyone know I had my PCNL on the 26th November, I was fortunate that the staghorn didn’t do any damage to my kidney, so that was saved. I did however have the staghorn and 3 small stones by the time of surgery. I had my surgery at 08:55 precisely and apparently due to the size of the stone and the location, my consultant said it was very complicated and tricky, so took just short of 5 hours. However despite that I am recovering really well. The following day I had a CT scan to check if all of the stones had been removed and was pleased that the only thing left behind was a very small fragment of one of the stones. On the Saturday they clamped my nephrostomy tube with the view to removing it and then I could go home, but when they did I had the worst pain across my pelvis. They unclamped it and the pain was relieved, this led the consultant to believe that there may have still been a blockage and recommended that I have a stent put in. I had just had the previous stent removed with this PCNL. Still in hospital attached to my nephrostomy tube a week later and they decided to do another ct scan to double check if a stent would be necessary, but the flow from my kidney was working fine, so they decided that a stent would not be needed. However this scan revealed I had two very small stones.( This is what I am now concerned with, I am not worried about the stones themselves as I have been told they are small enough that they should pass on their own, but what worries me is have I developed these stones since the previous scan was taken 6 days before, or could it be just that the previous ct scan missed them? If I have developed new ones, this concerns me how fast I am producing kidney stones. Anyone have any advice about that? I know that I had developed 2 kidney stones from a ct scan I had in September til October when I had my follow up one). After the scan showed that my kidney flow was fine and I would not need a stent, the decision was made to remove the nephrostomy without clamping it first and for me to go home. Apart from a lot of leakage and not enough dressings for the first 2 days, I am healing really well. I do tire very quickly and if I do too much for example I have just stood and done a load of ironing I feel very achey and sore. Also I find that I wake up between 4 and 5 every morning since I have been home aching a lot around the kidney area ( a kind of throbbing pain) and then aches and pains across my back from one shoulder blade to the other, below both ribs, down the full left side where the surgery was, and across my pelvis. The pain is nothing like the stone pain and is managed by pain meds, but it is annoying that it doesn’t let me sleep. Typical when my 1 year old has been with her grandparents all week, so I could get some rest lol. I am now currently waiting a letter for a follow up appointment, so hope I get some answers regarding the other stones then.

      • Kathy says:

        Hi Jane!

        Sorry to miss your post earlier. Have had other health issues (hasn’t been a good year!). How are you getting on now? So glad they could save your kidney! Just to let you know, I think I had it much easier than you, not to mention I don’t have small children! Sounds like you may have been pushing yourself too hard – send the ironing out! I actually got a housecleaner from the VNA. I had to pay out of pocket, but it was very reasonable. It’s an adjunct service our VNA offers. I only found out about it through a friend. they will come temporarily and in an emergency when most cleaners don’t want temporary jobs (and those commercial services are so expensive!). Service is specific for patients only. I had someone come just to carry laundry, change bed and vacuum. Super service! Did a heating pad work for the pain at all? Keep in touch. Will try to check website again soon.

  20. meanna says:

    Hi i am having pcnl surgery in a week so nervous !! What is recovery time how long till i can return to work been off work two months so ready to feel better and return to work thanks in advance.

    • Jane Westerman says:

      Hi I am due to have pcnl on the 26th November, by now I should think you will have had your surgery, but just in case I have been advised that it will take 2-4 weeks for a full recovery. I have been off almost 4 months already, so I understand how difficult it is. Good luck x

  21. Joanne Gillen says:

    After 10 weeks of antibiotics,I’ve been told yesterdày I hav a huge staghorn kidney stone ( 10 cm ) omg,doc says 3 to 4 hours in theatre,5 day stay in hospital has anyone had a stone of this size removed ????

    • jane westerman says:

      I have just been diagnosed last week as having a huge staghorn stone too, although he didn’t give me the exact measurements. I too have to be admitted to hospital he also told me about 3 hour operation but only told me I would probably be in hospital from about 3 days. I am sorry I haven’t any experience to tell you about it, as in the same boat, but would be grateful too for any information at all. It is a PCNL operation he has recommended. Also I am wondering how long we will wait for the operation, as I have been suffering for years with pain (got told nothing wrong with me just muscular) and just diagnosed this last week currently been on sick from work as pain is unbearable. So the sooner the better for me. Good luck for your operation xxx

      • Kathy says:

        Hi Jane!

        Was wondering if you had your surgery yet? I just got out of hospital (just an overnight) yesterday after having a minimally invasive PCNL for 2×1 cm staghorn stone in right kidney, and utereroscopy on left for two other stones. My story sounds very similar to yours – misdiagnosed for years (not that I didn’t complain!). I had bilateral stents placed also. Incision from PCNL is only 1 cm. They removed the tube when I was discharged and waterproof bandaged it. Incision tends to leak the first couple of days after tube removal. Will not even need it rebandaged if it’s not leaking tomorrow. The nurses kept me very comfortable with pain medication in the hospital. Can honestly say, after pain and infection of stones, the surgery was very bearable. Was walking the hospital floor that night. Am planning on stopping narcotics today. Discomfort from the stents is worse than the incision area – kind of spasms/burning when I urinate- which is frequently. I do tire easily and rest a lot, but can putter around the house for a few hours at a time. Can definitely tell if I am overdoing it. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was much easier than I imagined. Doctor told me two weeks to feel “normal”. Can’t drive for a week or lift anything heavy, but can do almost anything else that is not too strenuous. Already feel better. Don’t know if you are having the minimally invasive type of PCNL, but hope my experience helps you. Good Luck. Know you will ultimately feel MUCH better! The anticipation prior to the surgery was the worst part along with the prepping/clear liquid diet.

      • Kathy says:


        Just an update on my surgery. Did stop narcotics on day three. I was hoping that “fuzzy headed feeling” would go away, but still was kind of “out of it” regardless for another 3-4 days. Am now going on 10 days from operation (PCNL on right and ureteroscopy on left). Had right stent removed a week out which was very non eventful. There are some real horror stories pertaining to the stent removal and I was very scared, but really had no problem – that side feels much better already. Remaining stent is still making me mildly miserable with frequent urination and cramping the most annoying problems. – Feels similar to bad menstrual cramps. Still tire easily and nap often. Am taking Aleve alternating with Tylenol as recommended by urologist. Went shopping yesterday and out to lunch with friend, had to take a nap on return. Would advise not to overdo it and listen to your body. I am fortunate in that I am not currently working. I would try to take at least 2 weeks off if possible, and if not, reduce your work load considerably. The heating pad was my best friend for the first 5 days. Had it on low and used it every time I lay down. Hope my experience alleviates some of the fear. I went into it completely mortified. I won’t sugar coat it, it’s not a vacation, but very doable. Just don’t be afraid to use the pain meds as needed and take it easy.

        • Jane Westerman says:

          Hi Kathy

          Thank you so much for your reply it is most helpful, I am sorry I have taken so long to read this until now. You have done brilliantly I cannot believe you were only in overnight. I have been told to expect about a three day stay, they haven’t mentioned anything whether it is minimally invasive or not though, gave me a leaflet on it. I went to see a new consultant as previous one was a nightmare, he even sent paperwork to GP to say my staghorn was on the right, which is incorrect as it is on the left. Anyway new consultant advised I have a huge staghorn (still do not know how huge I keep forgetting to ask how big) and it has completely blocked my ureter. He admitted me immediately to have a stent fitted as he said that the PCNL op waiting list is 2-3 months. After having stent fitted I bled really heavily for about 3 days, which I was told was normal as it was a brutal procedure, I only expected bleeding whilst urinating and not constantly. Anyway other than the discomfort you are talking about, I have to say it hasn’t been too bad. The good news is despite consultant saying about the long waiting list for PCNL he has decided I shouldn’t wait much longer as he is very concerned about my kidney and he has booked me in for a kidney xray on the 5th November to see if it is functioning, and then I have a consultation with him on the 20th November to discuss the results (presumably) then he has pushed me up the queue and I am to have PCNL on the 26th November. So not as long to wait. They haven’t mentioned removing stent yet, so I am wondering if they will do that when I have the PCNL. I also have a small stone which they haven’t mentioned removal of. I have a lot of questions at my consultation. I am so pleased you have recovered quickly and hope they do not re-occur. Work do not want me to go back until all my treatment is finished, as it is pointless to go back and keep being off all the time. So going to make the most of it and take a few weeks off hopefully after my op and hoping to go back in the New Year as do not see the point in going back round Christmas time, so I may drag it out a bit lol. I have been off this long so may as well go back when it suits me. x

          • Kathy Boyle says:

            Hi Jane!

            Your situation sounds a bit more severe than mine. I had no obstructions. My guess is that you will be keeping that stent even after the procedure. Did they give you a Flomax Rx? I thought it really helped with the stent. I kept my right stent for a week after PCNL and two weeks for the left ureteroscopy (Dr. said he did “quite a bit of work there” which translates “you will be a little raw down there so we should keep the stent a bit longer”). It does get easier as you have probably found out. I have read many people go home with the nephrostomy tube also – let’s hope you are one of the lucky ones and get it out at the hospital. I hope your kidney function is still good and glad you don’t have to work! And yes, the stent is brutal! I was originally scheduled to have the two procedures 4 days apart, but Dr. found “something” on CT scan and they postponed PCNL. I was already prepped for surgery, so they placed other stent in left before stone removal on that side. Ended up with renal colic that evening. Hubby was beside himself seeing me in that much pain – glad I had the oxycodone Rx. I just didn’t take it soon enough. Got to go for another CT scan with contrast dye to check out right side issue – it was a “nothing”. So, I got a little scare over the weekend. Re-prepped for both surgeries and had both together. Doesn’t sound like you are going to get the option of the minimally invasive surgery. Your stone sounds pretty big! Maybe they don’t want to scare you? My Dr. showed me mine on the scan (it was hard to miss!). I went for a walk yesterday and am doing great! I feel 100%. I think the infection was kind of insidious and really wearing me down. They had me on numerous and copious amounts of antibiotics. My thoughts are with you. Had my follow up ultrasound today and last (?) appointment with Dr. tomorrow. Am drinking a lot of water and watching my diet (had calcium oxalate stones on left). Please let me know how it goes. Am thinking of you.

    • Michelle says:

      I have just been in hospital and had pnl nearly 5 hours in theatre 3 days in hospital now home and got stent in the pain I am having is terrible I have been told in passing the fragments that were left. I am worried about removal of stent as not got string attached. I’m on so much pain med including morphine. When will it ease up ?

  22. Katie says:

    I have been advised two different types of treatment from two different urologist and am unsure of which is best.

    1- remove kidney

    2- PCNL

    My right kidney is dramatically smaller than my left. The right kidney function is 17% with a complete stag horn stone 4cm+. The left is healthy except for a 1cm stone inside the kidney tissue.

    They have advised the PCNL will take 3 different surgeries to complete. Which sounds a bit daunting.

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • DR Sravika Pranita says:

      There are some common medicines told in homeopathy
      These are Berberis Vulgaris Q – 20-30 drops- 3times a day.
      2. Canthiris Q – If you feel burning in urine. 20 drps – 3 times a day.
      3. Clear stone-SBL(company name)- 15 drops three times of day.
      Before taking these medicines it is better to take 3 dose of Lyc.30.
      If you feel pain because of stone. Take Nux Vomica- 1M. This is the medicine taken only when you feel pain. Means it is taken as SOS. It is very effective medicine for relaxing your pain immediately and you will not have to run to a hospital for taking pain killer injection.
      But it better to consult with any homeopathic specialist before taking treatment. He will also help you take any constitutional medicine if required with these medicines.
      The other thing you have to do is take plenty of water and liquid like curd milk, juice etc. Avoid brinjal, tomato, lady finger spinach from your diet, do some exercise daily avoid heavy work till the stone is cured. You may feel burning at the time when stone is coming outside from bladder. You may increase the quantity of Canthiris Q.

  23. Geedee says:

    Hi can anyone share with me recovery time after a PCNL (hopefully please without a second stent !) I read it is 3 or so days in hospital a week recovery and full recovered in two weeks … I’m due a pcnl on 4th June, is it safe to go on holiday (Europe flight) 16th?? Any views appreciated. Ps had this stent for 7 weeks no respite from pain ! And now peeing random blood clots !

    • maryann ferns says:

      I’ve had numerous stents over the last 35 years and my best advise for stent discomfort is to keep something in the bladder. Always be drinking something. In an empty bladder the stent ends rub the walls of the bladder but having liquid in there causes them to float freely.good luck.

  24. Pingback: Kidney Stones During Pregnancy |

  25. Sudhir kute says:

    I hv ben operated under pcnl kideny stone peocedure on 2/5/13. While surgery two times incision done on my back.
    Still today fluid is continue frm my back.
    I want to know why this happens
    Req suggestion
    Sudhir kute

    • jane says:

      My very first kidney stone procedure was the Perctaneous one and nothing went to plan to what the leaflet said.My stone was a massive staghorn that filled my kidney and took over 4 hrs to be told they had removed 90% .My stay in hospital ended up being 6 days not 2 ..I didn’t have a clue what was going on and traumatized isn’t the word. When finally removed the tube from my kidney I didn’t know it was like a little umbrella that opened and closed and and that the nurse taking it out couldn’t close it as there was a stone in it preventing it so you can imagine the pain when she pulled it out still open! I was told to get dressed and when I did I felt warm liquid flood out my incision and panicked and pressed my buzzer for the nurse. She calmly said “oh that’s your wee because it will go to the nearest hole so I,ll just get you a stomer bag!!! WTF???? No one told me I,d need one of these or that I,d be using them at home for 9 days until my incision closed??? Trying to empty them when they are behind well..hard..thats an understatement. I had to get my son to help when he was there or if on my own empty them into my bathroom sink and bleach after as they are so high up you had to be a contortionist to attempt without spilling it all over. I hope no one ever has to endure what I went through and to this day I still suffer from kidney stones and have yearly ops to try and remove them but they keep on coming back!

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