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Tubeless Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy

Dr. Fazal Abbas

1 min read

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Kidney stones can be a painful and debilitating condition, and in some cases, surgical intervention is necessary for their removal. Traditional percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) has been a standard approach to address large or complex kidney stones.

However, a newer technique called “tubeless percutaneous nephrolithotomy” has gained popularity as a less invasive alternative with potential benefits. In this article, we’ll explore the procedure, advantages, patient selection, and considerations associated with tubeless PCNL.

Understanding Kidney Stones

Before delving into tubeless PCNL, it’s important to understand the basics of kidney stones. Kidney stones are solid mineral and acid salt deposits that form within the kidneys. They can cause intense pain and discomfort when they block the urinary tract or pass through it. Traditional treatment methods include medications, dietary changes, and in some cases, surgical interventions.

What Is Tubeless Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy?

Tubeless PCNL is a modified version of traditional PCNL, designed to minimize postoperative discomfort for patients. In this procedure, the surgeon aims to close the access tract without the need for a nephrostomy tube, allowing the patient to recover without external tubes.


The tubeless PCNL procedure involves several key steps:

  1. Patient Selection: Not all patients are candidates for tubeless PCNL. It is typically considered for individuals with smaller stones, lower stone burdens, and healthy kidney function. The decision to perform tubeless PCNL should be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the patient’s overall health and stone characteristics.
  2. Access to the Kidney: A small incision is made in the patient’s back to access the kidney, similar to traditional PCNL.
  3. Stone Removal: The surgeon uses a nephroscope to visualize and remove kidney stones, just like in traditional PCNL.
  4. Closure of Access Tract: The key difference in tubeless PCNL is the closure of the access tract without placing a nephrostomy tube. This may involve various techniques, such as hemostatic agents, sutures, or tissue-sealing technologies.

Advantages of Tubeless PCNL

Tubeless PCNL offers several potential benefits, including:

  1. Reduced Pain: Patients often experience less postoperative pain and discomfort without a nephrostomy tube.
  2. Shorter Hospital Stays: The absence of a nephrostomy tube may lead to shorter hospitalization periods.
  3. Decreased Risk of Infection: The removal of the external drainage tube can reduce the risk of infection.
  4. Faster Recovery: Patients may return to their regular activities more quickly compared to traditional PCNL.

Complications and Considerations

While tubeless PCNL offers several advantages, it is not without potential complications, including bleeding, infection, and the need for secondary procedures. It’s essential for patients to be informed about both the potential benefits and risks before undergoing the procedure.


Tubeless percutaneous nephrolithotomy is an innovative and minimally invasive approach to kidney stone removal that offers distinct advantages over traditional PCNL. However, the suitability of this procedure depends on patient-specific factors and stone characteristics. Patients should discuss their options with their urologist and make an informed decision regarding the most suitable treatment approach for their kidney stones.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Fazal Abbas
Dr. Fazal Abbas - Author Dr. Fazal Abbas is a Urologist. He has a MBBS and FCPS (Urology) degree along with an experience of 12 years. You can book an appointment with him through oladoc.com

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