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Can Dr. Samuel Lawindy provide treatment for large kidney stones?


  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy or nephrolithotripsy (PCNL) is a specialized procedure designed to remove larger kidney stones (2 cm or bigger) or complex stones, where minimally invasive procedures such as ureteroscopy and shock wave lithotripsy are not effective.
  • PCNL is performed under general anesthesia with a tiny incision made in the back of the kidney, using ultrasound or fluoroscopy guidance, and involves breaking the stone into smaller fragments with a laser or ultrasound, which are then safely flushed out of the kidney.
  • While PCNL carries some risks, such as injury to nearby organs, infection, and bleeding, it is generally a safe and effective minimally invasive procedure that provides immediate relief from symptoms and fast recovery times.

 A kidney stone that is 2 cm or larger in size causes more severe symptoms. Unfortunately, for such a large stone, the usual minimally invasive procedures such as ureteroscopy and shock wave lithotripsy do not work.

So you’ll need a more specialized procedure called percutaneous nephrolithotomy or nephrolithotripsy (PNCL).

PCNL is a surgical technique designed to remove kidney stones located in the kidney or upper ureter, where shock wave lithotripsy or ureteroscopy are not effective. Also, it is the ideal procedure for stones that are too large.

How is PCNL performed?

With percutaneous nephrolithotomy or nephrolithotripsy, a tiny incision is made through the back of the kidney directly to where the stone is.  To gain access to the exact location of the stone in the kidney or upper ureter, the surgeon relies on the guidance of ultrasound or fluoroscopy.

Once the stone is reached, the surgeon uses a power source, such as laser or ultrasound, to break the stone into smaller fragments. The resulting smaller pieces are safely flushed out of the kidney through an external tube or an internal stent.

Typically, your surgeon passes a nephroscope—a miniature fiber-optic camera—together with other small instruments through the incision and into the kidney area where the stone is located. These instruments allow the surgeon to see the stone and to then use high frequency sound waves to break it.

If the resulting pieces of the stone are removed via the tube, the procedure is called percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL). But if the stone is broken up and removed by other means, the procedure is called percutaneous nephrolithotripsy (PCNL).

Depending on the position of the stone in the kidney, the surgeon will take 20 to 45 minutes to complete the procedure. The goal of the procedure is to remove all of the stone, so that no pieces are left to pass through your urinary tract.

When is PCNL recommended?

Percutaneous nephrolithotripsy or nephrolithotomy is used for:

  1. Larger stones, 2 cm in diameter or bigger
  2. Complex stones
  3. Lower pole renal stones, larger than 1 cm
  4. Irregularly shaped stones
  5. Removing kidney stones in people with infections
  6. Stones that have not broken up enough by SWL (extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy)
  7. Kidney stones in individuals who are not candidates for ureteroscopy

Is the procedure safe?

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy does have risks but is generally a safe, effective minimally invasive procedure. Most often, it successfully removes larger kidney stones and results in immediate relief of symptoms.

During PCNL, a hole is created in the kidney that should eventually heal without other forms of treatment. However, since the procedure is done around the back or abdomen, it comes with a small risk of injury to other nearby organs, like the ureter, bladder, liver, or bowel. 

Also, like other surgical operations, PCNL comes with some risk of infection and bleeding. And because all surgeries on the kidney have a relatively rare long-term risk of high blood pressure or reduced kidney function later in life, the procedure carries these risks and should be conducted by an experienced, specially trained urologist.

What is the recovery like after PCNL?

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is done under general anesthesia. So after the procedure, you will need a short stay in hospital to be monitored before you can go home. 

Often, an overnight stay in the hospital after the surgery is enough and you can go home the very next day. Recovery is fast and generally smooth. You should be off work for just a week. 

Safe, successful PCNL

At Advanced Urology Institute, we consider percutaneous nephrolithotomy one of the most effective techniques for stones larger than 2 cm in diameter. From our experience, patients leave the hospital stone-free after the procedure and are usually completely freed from any stone-related symptoms.

At Advanced Urologist Institute, we have a talented and skilled pool of urologists that perform the procedure frequently. For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of kidney stones, visit the site “Advanced Urology Institute.”


So my name is Samuel Lawindy, I’m a board certified urologist at Advanced Urology Institute.

So if you have a large stone in the kidney, usually two centimeters or larger, minimally invasive procedures such as a ureteroscopy or shockwave will not work.

So a PCNL or long term is percutaneous nephrolithotripsy would work very well for that.

That is where the procedure goes through the back of the kidney, directly to where the stone is and we can break it up and pull those pieces out safely and it’s a one night overnight stay at the hospital and you go home the very next day and usually patients tolerate it very well.

It’s a good option for patients who have that stone, it’s important to recognize that it is done here and does not require a tertiary care center, we do take care of it here at this facility.

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Advanced Urology Institute

Advanced Urology Institute is the largest urology practice in Florida. We are dedicated to improving the lives of our patients by providing excellent Patient-Centered Care. Set an appointment or visit our closest office near you.

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