What to Expect Before and After PCNL Surgery

Pre-Surgical Preparation

Surgery1Dr. Davalos performs the PCNL procedure in a hospital operating suite or in one of Chesapeake Urology's state-of-the-art ambulatory surgical centers (for appropriate candidates).  The procedure, performed under general anesthesia, lasts from 90 minutes to three hours depending on the complexity of the stone being treated.  

Prior to surgery, Dr. Davalos utilizes special CT imaging to map out the kidney and to help identify the safest and best entry point into the kidney to ensure a more complete removal of the stone(s). 


You will be instructed to do the following to prepare for your surgery:

  • A few weeks prior to surgery, you will need to see your Primary Care Physician for a physical examination, blood work and possibly an EKG. Dr. Davalos' office will provide a list of tests needed for surgical clearance.
  • Prior to surgery, have nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night prior to the procedure unless otherwise instructed.

  • You may need to stop aspirin or blood thinners depending on your physician’s instructions (never stop aspirin and blood thinners without discussing with your primary care physician).

  • Please bring a list of your current medications to your surgery.

  • You will need to arrive 90 minutes prior to the scheduled procedure.

After the Procedure - What To Expect

Following your surgery, you will be admitted to an inpatient unit for a period of one to two days. Dr. Davalos advises patients on the following:

  • You will usually have a catheter in the bladder until the following day.

  • Dr. Davalos will perform a CT scan following your surgery to ensure that all fragments of the kidney stone have been removed. You will likely have a chest scan performed at this time as well. Dr. Davalos will review the scan and the results of your surgery with you prior to discharge from the hospital.

  • You may see blood in the urine and it may last several days to weeks.

  • You will receive several doses of IV antibiotics (24 hours) and IV or oral pain medication.

  • We will usually remove your dressing the following morning after your surgery at which time you may also be able to shower.

  • You may have a ureteral stent that was placed during your procedure. The stent will stay in for several days to one week depending on your situation. Some patients may need a cystoscopy to remove the stent, which can be performed in Dr. Davalos' office. 

  • Usually patients are ready for discharge around noon the day after surgery.

  • You will be given prescriptions that may include: Antibiotics (typically 24 hours), pain medications for stent pain, and stool softeners.  
  • You will be given instructions as to when you should follow up with Dr. Davalos.

  • Most patients return to work/ full activity within 2 weeks.

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How Will I feel After Surgery?

While minimally invasive, PCNL is still major surgery and it will take you several days to start feeling better. Dr. Davalos will provide you with written instructions on what to expect after surgery and how to take care of yourself. It's also important know:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to help flush out the blood.

  • You may have mild burning with urination that usually lasts several days following surgery; usually Tylenol will help with this discomfort.

  • You will be given narcotic pain medication for severe pain as needed.

  • In most cases, you can return to work several days after the procedure.

  • You will be advised to take it easy as you continue to recover over the next several days to weeks at home. It's important to report any abnormal pain, fever, chills and bleeding to Dr. Davalos immediately as this may be a sign of infection.

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Learn about Tubeless PCNL Here.