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Percutaneous puncture during PCNL: new perspective for the future with virtual imaging guidance



Large and complex renal stones are usually treated with percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL). One of the crucial steps in this procedure is the access to the collecting system with the percutaneous puncture and this maneuver leads to a risk of vascular and neighboring organs’ injury. In the last years, the application of virtual image-guided surgery has gained wide diffusion even in this specific field.


To provide a short overview of the most recent evidence on current applications of virtual imaging guidance for PCNL.

Evidence acquisition

A non-systematic review of the literature was performed. Medline, PubMed, the Cochrane Database and Embase were screened for studies regarding the use virtual imaging guidance for PCNL.

Evidence synthesis

3D virtual navigation technology for PCNL was first used in urology with the purpose of surgical training and surgical planning; subsequently, the field of surgical navigation with different modalities (from cognitive to augmented reality or mixed reality) had been explored. Finally, anecdotal preliminary experiences explored the potential application of artificial intelligence guidance for percutaneous puncture.


Nowadays, many experiences proved the potential benefit of virtual guidance for surgical simulation and training. Focusing on surgery, this tool revealed to be useful both for surgical planning, allowed to achieve a better surgical performance, and for surgical navigation by using augmented reality and mixed reality systems aimed to assist the surgeon in real time during the intervention.

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Author information




Protocol/project development: EC, DA, GC, JGR; data collection or management: SDC, AP, AT; data analysis: SP, DZ, JM, BC, AP; manuscript writing/editing: EC, GV; supervision: CF, MM, SDL, EL, FP.

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Correspondence to E. Checcucci.

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Checcucci, E., Amparore, D., Volpi, G. et al. Percutaneous puncture during PCNL: new perspective for the future with virtual imaging guidance. World J Urol (2021).

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  • Kidney stones
  • PCNL
  • Virtual imaging
  • 3D
  • Augmented reality
  • Artificial intelligence