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Urology. 2019 Nov 14. pii: S0090-4295(19)30979-3. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2019.08.060. [Epub ahead of print]

Electromagnetic Guided Percutaneous Renal Access Outcomes Among Surgeons and Trainees of Different Experience Levels: A Pilot Study.

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University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Electronic address:
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN.



To determine feasibility of an electromagentic (EM) guidance system (Auris Health, Redwood City, CA) in obtaining percutaneous renal access among urologists and trainees of different experience levels. EM-guidance is appealing for access as it allows real time, three-dimensional targeting without radiation. Few studies have explored this for percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) and none have assessed its potential to decrease the learning curve in obtaining access using traditional techniques.


IACUC approval was obtained to compare EM-guided percutaneous access to fluoroscopic guided access in a porcine model. Voluntary participants included urology trainees and faculty. They were categorized as beginner (no prior primary PCNL experience), intermediate (10-100 prior) and advanced (>100). Each participant attempted an EM and fluoroscopic guided puncture. Primary outcome was successful puncture. Secondary outcomes included access time, fluoroscopy time, and number of attempts. Participants were limited to 3 attempts and 10 minutes total to obtain access using each technique.


14 participants (6 beginner, 4 intermediate, 4 expert) attempted 28 punctures. Overall success using EM-guidance was 93% compared to 71% using fluoroscopy (p=0.33). EM punctures had shorter access times (85 vs. 255 sec, p<0.01) required fewer attempts (1 vs 2, p=0.04) and had decreased associated fluoroscopy times (1 vs. 96 sec, p<0.01) excluding the initial retrograde pyelogram and guidance of the ureteroscope to the desired calyx. Beginners showed comparable success rates and outcomes relative to experts despite higher access times.


EM-guidance is a promising new technique to decrease the learning curve of percutaneous access with high success rates and minimal radiation.

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