Ultrasound-guided Access and Dilation for Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy in the Supine Position: A Step-by-Step Approach

David T. Tzou, Ian S. Metzler, Manint Usawachintachit, Marshall L. Stoller, Thomas Chi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Introduction: Ultrasound guidance for percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) has gained acceptance amongst urologists given its numerous advantages over fluoroscopy. While traditionally performed in the prone position, this video demonstrates a step-by-step approach to performing PCNL in the supine position, solely under ultrasound guidance. Materials and Methods: Once in the modified supine (Galdakao-modified Valdivia) position, important anatomic landmarks are identified. It is important to first orient the ultrasound probe such that its cranial side corresponds to the left of the ultrasound screen. After optimizing a target calyx, keeping the needle in the imaging plane of the probe facilitates renal access. Tract dilation under ultrasound guidance is then achieved by keeping the wire and dilators in the same imaging plane. Results: The 11th and 12th ribs, paraspinous muscle, iliac crest, midaxillary line, and costal margin are the anatomic landmarks that orient the probe to the location of the kidney. Placing the ultrasound probe in the midaxillary line, parallel to the 11th rib allows the operator to identify key renal landmarks: the renal cortex, peri-pelvic fat, collecting system, kidney stone with its associated postacoustic shadow, and the intended target calyx. Controlling the needle is easiest in the longitudinal view, as the needle can be visualized from skin to target. Dilation under ultrasound relies on keeping the wire in view. The tip of the 10-French dilator is based on the location where the wire image disappears as the dilator advances. The balloon dilator tip is visualized on ultrasound reaching the appropriate depth just inside the collecting system, at which time balloon inflation results in complete dilation of the tract. Conclusions: This video provides a step-by-step approach demonstrating that PCNL can be performed in the supine position using only ultrasound-guidance. This approach facilitates renal access in this position and obviates the need for radiation exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-246
Number of pages2
StatePublished - Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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