High Supracostal Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy Access: Assessing Safety in Access above the Eleventh Rib after Performing Preoperative Planning with Computed Tomography


Objective: To determine if supracostal renal access above the 11th rib during percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) is a safe option in carefully selected patients determined by preoperative computed tomography (CT) imaging. Patients and Methods: We retrospectively isolated 142 patients who underwent access above the eleventh rib during PCNL, which we term “high supracostal renal access.” We then compared these patients to 113 individuals who underwent access below the twelfth rib. Renal access was achieved by the operative surgeon with fluoroscopic guidance in conjunction with pre-operative computed tomography (CT) scan. Outcomes were compared. Results: Overall surgical outcomes were equivalent when comparing high supracostal versus subcostal access sites. As expected due to proximity, pleural complications occurred in 4% of the high supracostal group (n = 6) compared with 0% of the control (subcostal) group (p = 0.035). Of these six complications, three were managed conservatively with observation and two required cardio-thoracic intervention with video-assisted thoracoscopic pleural repair (1%). In the remaining case, the patient was preoperatively consented for placement of a thoracostomy tube, which was placed during the procedure, due to the difficult location of her upper pole stone and closely adjacent low-lying pleura, and the planned transpleural approach. Hospital stay was not significantly pro-longed between the high supracostal access and subcostal access groups, with an average length of stay of 2.2 ± 2.1 days and 2.0 ± 1.9 days (p = 0.59) respectively. Conclusions: Careful, systematic preoperative planning based on CT and fluoroscopic imaging allows for a confident understanding of a “safety zone” in placement and dilatation of renal access points during PCNL. We have shown that planned upper pole renal access above the 11th rib is achievable with acceptable morbidity and excellent success rates.

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Abbott, J. , DiMatteo, A. , Fazio, E. , Deem, S. , Sobh, A. , DePolo, A. and Davalos, J. (2015) High Supracostal Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy Access: Assessing Safety in Access above the Eleventh Rib after Performing Preoperative Planning with Computed Tomography. Open Journal of Urology, 5, 25-33. doi: 10.4236/oju.2015.54005.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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