Objective: To compare perioperative outcomes between lower, mid, and upper pole access locations for patients undergoing single-access, unilateral percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL). Methods: We queried our institutional PCNL database to include patients who had unilateral, single access procedures. We excluded patients who had a contralateral procedure during the same admission or multiaccess procedures. Patients were grouped by the site of PCNL access (lower, mid, or upper pole). Among groups, we compared postoperative day 1 (POD1) stone-free rates as measured by abdominal CT scan or plain-film X-ray and consequent need for a secondary procedure. We further compared postoperative complication rates. Results: We included 767 patients for analysis, with the majority of access locations being in the lower pole (80.2%). Patients across groups had similar age, body mass index, and stone laterality. Patients with horseshoe kidneys more commonly had mid or upper pole access compared to lower pole. The percentage of patients with no residual stone fragments seen on POD 1 imaging was similar for lower, mid, and upper pole groups (57.7% vs 65.0% vs 61.6%, respectively; P = .526). Additionally, we observed no difference in the percentage of patients requiring a secondary procedure among the above groups (33.5% vs 22.5% vs 31.3%, respectively; P = .337). Patients experienced no difference in complications among groups. Conclusion: When performing unilateral PCNL using a single site of access, we observed no difference in stone-free rates or complications between lower, mid, and upper pole locations. Appropriate selection of access location in PCNL should be individualized to patient factors and surgeon experience.
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