Are Routine Laboratory Investigations Necessary Following Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy?



      To determine how effective routine postoperative blood work is in identifying complications after percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL), the gold standard treatment for large volume stone disease. Although major complication rates are low, hemorrhagic and sepsis-related complications are serious and can occur. Routine post-PCNL complete blood count is routinely performed by most endourologists but may be a low-value practice.


      A retrospective review was performed of all PCNL procedures at our center over a 3-year period. Patient demographic, stone characteristics and postoperative data were collected and analyzed.


      Three hundred and eighty-five patients (196 female and 189 males) underwent PCNL for the treatment of urolithiasis. Mean age was 55.8 years and mean length of stay in hospital was 1.74 days. Most patients (82.9%) had neither ureteric stent nor percutaneous tube prior to PCNL. Postoperatively, 4 patients (1.0%) required a blood transfusion and 14 patients (3.6%) developed urosepsis. Patients who required either a transfusion or developed urosepsis demonstrated abnormal vital signs (tachycardia, hypotension, or fever) postoperatively. Sixteen patients (4.2%) had normal vital signs but had an extended hospital stay only to monitor abnormal blood work results. None these patients required a transfusion nor developed urosepsis but had a length of stay that was a mean of 1.5 days longer patients with normal postoperative vital signs and blood work.


      Abnormal vital signs alone identified all patients that required transfusion or treatment for urosepsis after PCNL. Routine complete blood count testing postoperatively may not improve detection of infectious or bleeding complications and may prolong hospital admission unnecessarily.
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