Blog - Latest News

Article of the week: Ultrasound guidance can be used safely for renal tract dilatation during percutaneous nephrolithotomy

Every week, the Editor-in-Chief selects an Article of the Week from the current issue of BJUI. The abstract is reproduced below and you can click on the button to read the full article, which is freely available to all readers for at least 30 days from the time of this post.

In addition to the article itself, there is an editorial written by a prominent member of the urological community and a visual abstract prepared by a trainee urologist; we invite you to use the comment tools at the bottom of each post to join the conversation. 

If you only have time to read one article this week, we recommend this one. 

Ultrasound guidance can be used safely for renal tract dilatation during percutaneous nephrolithotomy

Manuel Armas-Phan*, David T. Tzou*, David B. Bayne*, Scott V. Wiener*, Marshall L. Stoller* and Thomas Chi*

*Department of Urology, University of California, San Francisco, CA and Division of Urology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA



To compare clinical outcomes in patients who underwent percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) with renal tract dilatation performed under fluoroscopic guidance vs renal tract dilatation with ultrasound guidance.

Patients and Methods

We conducted a prospective observational cohort study, enrolling successive patients undergoing PCNL between July 2015 and March 2018. Included in this retrospective analysis were cases where the renal puncture was successfully obtained with ultrasound guidance. Cases were then grouped according to whether fluoroscopy was used to guide renal tract dilatation or not. All statistical analyses were performed using Stata version 15.1 including univariate (Fisher’s exact test, Welch’s t‐test) and multivariate analyses (binomial logistic regression, ordinal logistic regression, and linear regression).


A total of 176 patients underwent PCNL with successful ultrasonography‐guided renal puncture, of whom 38 and 138 underwent renal tract dilatation with fluoroscopic vs ultrasound guidance, respectively. There were no statistically significant differences in patient age, gender, body mass index (BMI), preoperative hydronephrosis, stone burden, procedure laterality, number of dilated tracts, and calyceal puncture location between the two groups. Among ultrasound tract dilatations, a higher proportion of patients were placed in the modified dorsal lithotomy position as opposed to prone, and a significantly shorter operating time was observed. Only modified dorsal lithotomy position remained statistically significant after multivariate regression. There were no statistically significant differences in postoperative stone clearance, complication rate, or intra‐operative estimated blood loss. A 5‐unit increase in a patient’s BMI was associated with 30% greater odds of increasingly severe Clavien–Dindo complications. A 5‐mm decrease in the preoperative stone burden was associated with 20% greater odds of stone‐free status. No variables predicted estimated blood loss with statistical significance.


Renal tract dilatation can be safely performed in the absence of fluoroscopic guidance. Compared to using fluoroscopy, the present study demonstrated that ultrasonography‐guided dilatations can be safely performed without higher complication or bleeding rates. This can be done using a variety of surgical positions, and future studies centred on improving dilatation techniques could be of impactful clinical value.

© 2024 BJU International. All Rights Reserved.