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Article of the week: Plasma vaporization: the new standard for PCNL tract creation?

Every week the Editor-in-Chief selects the 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 accompanying editorial written by a prominent member of the urological community. This blog is intended to provoke comment and discussion and we invite you to use the comment tools at the bottom of each post to join the conversation.

Finally, the third post under the Article of the Week heading on the homepage will consist of additional material or media. This week we feature a video procedure by Dr Chiang and colleagues showing tract creation using plasma vaporization.

If you only have time to read one article this week, it should be this one.


Randomized and prospective trial comparing tract creation using plasma vaporization with balloon dilatation in percutaneous nephrolithotomy

Po Hui Chiang and Hsin Hao Su

Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Kaohsiung, Taiwan


• To evaluate the efficacy and safety of plasma vaporization for tract creation in percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL).


• In this randomized prospective trial we enrolled 65 patients and assigned each to one of two groups: 33 patients were randomly scheduled to undergo plasma vaporization and 32 were scheduled to undergo balloon dilatation for tract creation.

• A bipolar resectoscope mounted with a plasma vaporization button electrode or a traditional balloon dilator were used to create the nephrostomy tract.


• The mean blood loss, mean length of hospital stay and mean operating time, stone-free rates and postoperative complications in the two groups were compared using the t-test or chi-squared test (Fisher’s exact test).

• The plasma vaporization group had a significantly lower mean (SD) decrease in haematocrit level (3.5 [2.8]% vs 6.6 [3.3]%; P = 0.02) and a shorter mean (SD) hospital stay (2.6 [1.2] days vs 5.3 [3.4] days; P = 0.0).

• There were no significant differences in the operating time, stone-free rate or cases of postoperative fever between the two groups.


• The plasma vaporization technique is safe, leads to less blood loss than the other techniques, and is a simple solution for creating the nephrostomy tract for PCNL.


Read Previous Articles of the Week


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