Complications From Kidney Stone Surgery Rising, Study Finds

FRIDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- As more patients undergo a minimally invasive procedure to remove kidney stones, the rate of complications from the surgery is also rising, according to a new study.

The procedure -- called percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) -- involves making a small incision in the back and using a hollow scope to remove medium to large kidney stones.

Although the death rate related to the procedure remained low over the 10-year study period, certain complications, including blood infection, have soared. Patients were at higher risk of developing complications if they were older, sicker and treated in more recent years, the study found.

"We believe the broad use of this procedure, especially in older and sicker patients, may be the reason [for the increased rate of complications]," Dr. Khurshid Ghani and colleagues said in a news release from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

For the study, published recently in the Journal of Urology, the researchers analyzed data from more than 80,000 patients over age 18 in the United States who had the procedure between 1999 and 2009.

During that time, its use increased 47 percent, most notably among women.

The presence of other disorders or diseases at the time of surgery increased during the study period, and overall complications rose from about 12 percent to nearly 16 percent. Of particular note, the incidence of blood infection (sepsis) doubled from 1.2 percent to 2.4 percent.

The rate of death related to the procedure remained essentially unchanged at 0 to 0.4 percent. Deaths that did occur were in older patients, the study found.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about kidney stones.

SOURCE: Henry Ford Health System, news release, March 27, 2013

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