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Staghorn stones are large, branched stones occupying a large volume of the kidneys. The most effective treatment option is percutaneous nephrolithotomy, where the urologist inserts a scope directly into the kidney via a 1/2 inch tract made in your flank. Open surgery for kidney stones is strongly discouraged and reserved for only very rare cases with a very large stone burden or very unusual anatomy.
In some cases, the stone is made of uric acid, and in these cases, medications alone may help dissolve the stone and one can avoid surgery.
Staghorn kidney stones are most often found in women and generally form as a result of long-standing urinary tract infections. These stones can become quite large with multiple branches, and it becomes nearly impossible to eradicate the infection without removing the stone. The most efficient way to remove the stone is via a large tube placed directly through the skin into the kidney. With the aid of a scope and a variety of stone breaking (lithotripsy) devices, most of these stones can be fractured and removed all in one procedure. Smaller staghorn stones can occasionally be treated with ESWL – shock waves generated outside of the body and focused on the stone.
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.