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J Urol. 2011 Dec;186(6):2285-90. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2011.07.089. Epub 2011 Oct 20.

Changing composition of staghorn calculi.

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Department of Urologic Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.



The 2005 American Urological Association Guideline on the Management of Staghorn Calculi suggests that metabolic stones are uncommon in the composition of staghorn calculi. We determined the incidence and treatment outcomes of metabolic stones in patients with complete staghorn calculi compared to infection stones in those undergoing percutaneous nephrolithotomy.


We retrospectively analyzed all patients who underwent percutaneous nephrolithotomy for complete staghorn calculi between April 2005 and April 2010. Stone analysis was reviewed to classify stone type as infectious or metabolic. Perioperative characteristics and patient outcomes were compared in relation to stone composition.


Of 52 kidneys (48 patients) with complete staghorn calculi 29 (56%) were metabolic and 23 (44%) were infection stones. Stone compositions in the metabolic group were calcium phosphate (55%), uric acid (21%), calcium oxalate (14%) and cystine (10%). Patients with metabolic stones were more likely male (55% vs 17%, p = 0.005) and more likely to have a negative preoperative urinary culture (62% vs 35%, p = 0.05). Patients with metabolic stones had a lower complication rate (p = 0.02), while those with infection stones tended to require additional access and secondary treatment, and to have higher recurrence rates. Multiple urinary metabolic abnormalities were noted in all 13 (48%) patients with metabolic stones who completed evaluation.


In a contemporary cohort of patients, metabolic stones comprised a large proportion of complete staghorn calculi. In our series calcium phosphate was the most common stone composition noted. Metabolic stones should be considered during the evaluation of staghorn calculi, and our results underscore the importance of stone analysis and subsequent metabolic evaluation in these patients.

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