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Urol Ann. 2020 Jan-Mar;12(1):54-56. doi: 10.4103/UA.UA_10_19. Epub 2019 Nov 7.

Air embolism during percutaneous nephrolithotomy using air pyelogram during initial access: Does it really occur?

Author information

Department of Urology, Uttar Pradesh University of Medical Sciences, Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, India.



In the present era, percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) is the standard treatment for large (>2 cm) renal or staghorn renal stones. Both air and iodinated contrast has been used to opacify the pelvicalyceal system (PCS) before the dilatation of the tract. There are rare reports of air embolism following air pyelogram on mere presumptions.

Materials and Methods:

This is a prospective observational study. A total of 164 patients underwent PCNL in which air was used to opacify the PCS by placing a ureteric catheter for initial access.


None of our patients developed any complication during the procedure or in the postoperative period, which could be attributed to air embolism.


The present study ascertains that using air for opacification of PCS for initial puncture access is a safe and acceptable alternative to iodinated contrast.


Air embolism; air pyelogram; percutaneous nephrolithotomy

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