Kidney stones can range in size from very small to very large. Most stones are small enough that they will pass through your system without any medical assistance. But, even small stones can get lodged in the urinary tract, and that can block the flow of urine from the kidneys. Other stones are larger in size and will not pass out of your system without medical intervention. The one common symptom associated with kidney stones is pain that does not stop until the stone either passes through your system or is removed surgically.
Before The Surgery
- Your surgeon will explain how your operation will be performed, and what you need to do to prepare for the procedure.
- You’ll be told whether your procedure includes a temporary stent placed in the ureter to help your urine pass into your bladder for elimination. If the stent has a string attached, you’ll need to take showers until the stent is removed. If there is no string attached, you’ll be able to take in-tub baths.
- Whether you go home the same day or after a short stay in the hospital, you’ll need someone to drive you home because of the pain medication still in your system.
- While there are no dietary restrictions, you’ll need to drink a lot of water to ensure that all remaining pieces of a stone pass through your urinary system.
- You’ll have a follow-up appointment scheduled with your surgeon to evaluate your recovery and to remove the stent.
Kidney Stone Procedures
The three surgery techniques used to remove kidney stones are Shock Wave Lithotripsy, Ureteroscopy, and Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy or Nephrolithotripsy. You will be given a general anesthetic so that you’ll be asleep during the operation and not feel any pain. The operation will take about 30 minutes to 1 hour for completion.
- Shock Wave Lithotripsy is a non-invasive procedure used for small to medium sized stones. No incision is required. From outside your body, high-energy shock waves are used to break the stone into smaller pieces that will flow through the temporary stent into your bladder for elimination. After a few hours in recovery, you’ll be able to go home the same day.
- Ureteroscopy is a non-invasive procedure for stones that are trapped in your kidney or ureter. No incision is required. A thin scope with an attached small basket is passed through your bladder into the kidney. The stone is captured in the basket and removed. If the stone is too large for the basket, a laser is passed through the scope to break it into smaller pieces that can be captured by the basket. After a few hours in recovery, you’ll be able to go home the same day.
- Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy or Nephrolithotripsy is a minimally invasive procedure used for a very large stone or a collection of small stones. A small incision is made in your back or side at the point that leads directly to the kidney and drainage tube where the stones are located. Your surgeon uses a thin scope and special medical instruments to remove the kidney stone(s) in one of two ways:
- Nephrolithotomy is the method used to remove stones through a surgical tube.
- Nephrolithotripsy is the method using a laser or sound waves to break up a large stone into smaller pieces that are then vacuumed out.
The instruments are removed and the incision is closed with stitches. A percutaneous procedure requires a short stay in the hospital before you can go home.