Background and Purpose: The optimal postoperative drainage system for patients undergoing percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) has not yet been determined. Each of the different tubes available has theoretical advantages and disadvantages. The objective of this study was to determine if any one system of post-PCNL drainage has any significant advantage over the others. Patients and Methods: Sixty patients were randomized to either a 24F Re-entry tube (Group 1), an 8F pigtail catheter (Group 2), or a double-J stent (Group 3) (N = 20 for all groups). The double-J stent patients also had an 18F Councill catheter as a nephrostomy tube, which was removed on the morning of postoperative day 1. The three groups were well-matched for age, stone size, operative time, and mean number of percutaneous tracts (P > 0.05 for all). Data collected included intraoperative findings, postoperative analog pain scores and narcotic usage, presence of extravasation on postoperative nephrostogram, presence of perinephric fluid on postoperative ultrasound scans, length of stay, and whether leakage from the nephrostomy site persisted more than 48 hours after tube removal. Results: There were no statistically significant differences among the three groups in terms of change in hematocrit or number of patients requiring blood transfusion; in the incidence of tube blockage, extravasation, or presence of perinephritic fluid; or in complication rates, length of hospital stay, or persistent leakage after tube removal. There was a strong trend to less postoperative leakage with the 8F pigtail than the Reentry tube (P = 0.05). Postoperative analog pain scores and narcotic usage were equivalent for all three groups. Patients Groups 1 and 2 were free of all tubes sooner than patients in Group 3 (P < 0.001). Conclusions: This study did not demonstrate an overwhelming advantage of any one drainage system over the others. All three systems were equally tolerated by patients. There may be less chance of prolonged nephrostomy-site leakage with an 8F pigtail catheter.
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