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Noncontrast computed tomography (CT) is commonly utilized after percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PNL) to assess stone-free (SF) status. In addition to assessing SF status, CT is useful in the recognition of complications after PNL. We characterized complications demonstrated by postoperative CT scan and compared hospital re-admission rates based on whether or not CT was performed. We retrospectively reviewed records of 1032 consecutive patients from April 1999 to June 2010. Patients were divided into two cohorts based on whether they had a CT within 24 hours of PNL. Demographic data, CT findings, and need for re-admission for complication management were assessed. Nine hundred fifty-seven patients (92.7%) underwent post-PNL CT. CT-diagnosed complications were perinephric hematoma in 41 (4.3%; 2 requiring embolization and 9 necessitating transfusion), pleural effusion in 25 (2.6%; 10 requiring intervention), colon perforation in 2 (0.2%), and splenic injury in 2 (0.2%). Of patients with postoperative complications, 33% required intervention. Among patients with a CT, 6 (0.6%) were readmitted despite negative postoperative CT (four perinephric hematomas, one calyceal-pleural fistula, and one pseudoaneurysm). The sensitivity of CT for diagnosing complications was 92.7%. Seventy-five patients (7.3%) did not undergo CT post-PNL. Of these, four (5.33%) were readmitted: three for perinephric hematomas and one for ureteral clot obstruction. Patients undergoing post-PNL CT were less likely to be readmitted because of missed complications (p=0.02). Serious post-PNL complications are uncommon, but their prompt diagnosis and treatment is imperative. In addition to identifying residual stones, CT is useful in diagnosing postoperative complications. Postoperative CT could potentially be considered for all patients undergoing PNL, particularly in complex cases such as patients with anatomical abnormalities (renal anatomic abnormality or retrorenal colon), patients requiring upper pole access (risk of thoracic, hepatic, and splenic complications), and patients requiring multisite access (higher risk of perinephric hematoma or need for transfusion).


Ehud Gnessin, Jessica A Mandeville, Shelly E Handa, James E Lingeman. The utility of noncontrast computed tomography in the prompt diagnosis of postoperative complications after percutaneous nephrolithotomy. Journal of endourology / Endourological Society. 2012 Apr;26(4):347-50

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PMID: 22192107

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