Laser Treatment of Kidney Stone
Laser lithotripsy is a procedure to break apart kidney stones in the urinary tract. It is done with a ureteroscope passed into the tubes of the urinary tract. Incisions are not needed.
The laser breaks the kidney stones into smaller pieces that can either be removed by the surgeon or pass out of the body in the urine.
Reasons for Procedure
Kidney stones can become trapped anywhere in the urinary tract, including the kidney and the ureter. The ureter is a tube that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder. If a stone gets stuck in the ureter it can cause a blockage and back up of urine into the kidney. They can also be quite painful.
Laser lithotripsy is used to break apart the kidney stone so that it can pass through the ureter. The pieces will either be removed by the surgeon using a special basket or left in place where they will move from the ureter to the bladder, then out of the body with the urine.
Laser lithotripsy may be chosen if other non-surgical treatments have failed or if kidney stones are:
- Too large to pass
- Irregular in shape
- Causing bleeding or damage to surrounding tissue
A ureteroscope is an instrument with a long thin tube that looks like a straw. The doctor can use this scope to view the urinary tract, find kidney stones, and pass instruments to the stone.
The scope enters the urinary tract through the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. The scope continues to pass through the urethra, to the bladder, into the ureter and then to the stone.
Once the doctor sees the stone, a fiber will be sent through the scope to the stone. The fiber can create a laser beam to break up the stone. Small pieces may be removed using a basket that is passed through the scope. Small grain-like pieces may remain and will be gradually passed through the urine.
A temporary stent may be placed in the ureter. The stent will keep the ureter open, improve urine flow, and help the stone pieces pass. The stent will be removed after a few weeks.