Flexible ureteroscopy versus miniaturized percutaneous nephrolithotomy for renal stones of 1-2 cm

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Technological advances and innovation in endourology have significantly reduced the indications of extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy in the management of moderate-sized renal stones. In the last decade, we have witnessed a trend towards the use of finer scopes for percutaneous procedures instead of standard percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) (≥22 Fr). Miniaturized PCNL (mPCNL), i.e. miniPCNL (12-20 Fr), ultra-miniPCNL (11-13 Fr), mini-microPCNL (8 Fr), and microPCNL (<5 Fr), is increasingly being used. Concomitant developments in laser technology have provided a safe and effective stone fragmentation modality for use via flexible ureteroscopes (fURS). Technological advances in the design of fURS have improved not only the optics (fiber optic to chip-on-the-tip technology digital image) but also the ergonomics. Both the endourological techniques are extremely effective and safe, as shown in a multitude of good-quality studies. There are some differences in stone-free rate and complications. mPCNL in general has a higher stone-free rate, albeit with a slightly higher incidence of hemorrhagic complications. fURS often requires longer stenting time and longer period to achieve stone clearance, whereas mPCNL often needs ureteral catheter for only 24 hours and has a higher first day stone-free rate. fURS is a 1 day procedure compared to mPCNL, which requires patients to stay hospitalized for 2-3 days. It is therefore important to tailor the indications of these two procedures to the individual patient's needs.


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