Kidney stones are hard collections made of minerals like calcium or waste such as uric acid. The formation of stones starts from small, but they may grow as more minerals continue to stick to them.
Sometimes, kidney stones pass on and don’t need any treatment. Some kidney stones get stuck in the urinary tract and result in severe pain, which is treated only through surgery.
Shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) is one of the most common kidney stone procedures/treatments. It is considered best for small or medium stones. It’s non-invasive, which means no cuts are required to be made on your skin.
While conducting this procedure, a patient is asked to lie on the ED bed. You’ll be given medicine before starting the procedure to limit any pain or discomfort.
During diagnosis, the doctor uses an X-ray or ultrasound to find the stones in your kidney. Afterward, they use high-energy shock waves for your kidney from outside. These waves help to break up the stone into small pieces.
The urologist might put a tube-like structure into your ureter called a stent. This stent helps the pieces of kidney stone pass. SWL can take about one hour. Patients are then discharged from the hospital on the same day.
The post-surgery doctor advises you to drink lots of water to ensure stone pieces are flushed out through your urine. You might be advised to pee through a strainer to catch pieces of the stone in testing them.
SWL procedure works in almost half of the people who have it. If it doesn’t work, your doctor might suggest you have the procedure repeated.
The procedure may sometimes cause side effects such as cramps or blood in the urine. Moreover, serious problems are less likely to happen but can include:
This procedure is specially used in treating stones in the kidneys and ureters. Urologists use a thin, flexible scope to find and remove the stones. No cuts are made on your skin, which means it is a non-incision procedure. You’ll sleep through this procedure.
Your doctor will insert the scope through your bladder and ureter into your kidney. A small basket is used to remove small stones. In case the stones are larger, the urologist will pass a laser through the scope to break them. Patients are usually discharged on the same day.
The urologist may put a stent in your ureter to help urine move out from your kidney into your bladder. You’ll need to go back to the doctor after few days to remove the stent out.
Some stents might have a string at the end so that you can take it out yourself. You need to be a little careful and follow your urologist’s instructions to pull out the stent yourself.
Possible complications after a ureteroscopy include:
If your stone is big in size or the lithotripsy procedure doesn’t work properly, this surgery comes as an alternative option. PCNL procedure includes a small tube to reach the kidney stone and break it through high-frequency sound waves.
You will be given some medication or anesthesia not to be awake or feel anything during this surgery. Your surgeon will create a tiny cut in your back or side and place a thin scope into that cut.
The surgery can be performed in one of two different ways:
Nephrolithotomy: Urologist/surgeon removes the stone through a tube.
Nephrolithotripsy: The urologist/surgeon uses sound waves or a laser to break the stone and then uses a suction machine and vacuums up the pieces.
The surgery might take about 20 to 45 minutes. Your urologists might suggest you stay in the hospital for a day or two. Usually, post-surgery, a stent will be inserted in your kidney for a few days to help urine drain out.
You might need to go for a check-up after the few weeks of the surgery, where your doctor/urologists will conduct an X-ray or ultrasound to ensure any parts of the stone are not left. They might also send those stones to the lab to find out what they were made of.
Risks from this surgery may include:
Surgery may also help if:
You will be given some medication like anesthesia to make you unconscious during the procedure. Your surgeon will put a cut on your side and into your kidney. Then they will remove the stone from the opening. A stent will be placed in the ureter to help the urine drain out.
Post-surgery you may need to stay in the hospital for a few days. It may take 4 to 6 weeks for you to heal fully.
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