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What Procedures are Used For Kidney Stone Removal

Updated on January 9, 2011

When you have severe kidney stones, your doctor will usually discuss several medical procedures often used for kidney stone removal. Each one is a little different than the other, and some can be done on an outpatient basis. Other kidney stone removal processes however, may require a hospital stay and a lot of followup. Which kidney stone removal process your doctor recommends will likely depend a lot on how bad your kidney stones are, and where they're located.

Kidney stones can develop inside the kidneys, in the bladder, or in the narrow tubes known as ureters which connect the two. Kidney stones often develop in the kidney itself, and the excessive pain is caused when the stone enters the ureters to be passed to the bladder and out of your system. If the stones are too large to travel through the narrow ureters tubes, it can cause a lot of pain. Sometimes they can get stuck as well, and this can cause an infection or other more severe problems.

Before perfoming a surgical or medical procedure to remove the kidney stones, your doctor may have you drink plenty of fluids for several days to see if the stone can pass on its own. The doctor may tell you to stay home and get plenty of water - two to three quarts or more each day - and take pain medicine. He or she may also give you a strainer designed to catch the kidney stone when it passes. This will allow the doctor to run tests and know which particular type of kidney stone you had. Knowing which kind of kidney stone you have problems with can help with future treatments and prevention.

If the water flush does not work to remove your kidney stone, or there are other complications such as an infection, there are other methods which might be used instead.

The most frequently used method of kidney stone removal is a special shockwave treatment called Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL). You are placed in a tub of water or on a special mat, or cushion. The doctor then uses special xrays or ultrasound equipment to pinpoint the location of the kidney stone, then creates a shockwave which starts outside the body. Anesthesia is usually given for this kidney stone removal procedure, but it's usually done on an outpatient basis.

In some cases the ESWL treatment does not shatter the kidney stone fully, so the doctor may also place a small tube called a stent, or stint, into your bladder and up into the ureter tube to help the remaining pieces of kidney stone pass.

When you have fairly large kidney stones, or they're in a location that cannot be targeted by the ESWL shockwave treatment, your doctor may recommend another kidney stone removal process called percutaneous nephrolithotomy. This procedure involves putting a small incision in your back which creates a tunnel to the kidney. The doctor then uses special tools to either remove the stone, or break it into smaller pieces. When this kidney stone removal process is used, you're normally required to stay in the hospital for a few days.

Informational Vidoe on Kidney Stones


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