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Kidney stones are often small enough and pass through urine without much bother. Most kidney stones are smaller than 4 mm in diameter. Having said this, even the smallest of kidney stones can be really painful until they pass through urine (learn more what Urine Says About Your Health). It typically takes a couple of days for the body to get rid of it. While medication and self-care are the foremost options, there are a range of other options as well available for treating kidney stones.
Admission to a Hospital-
You must get admitted to a hospital if the stone moves to the ureter, thereby resulting in severe pain. Typically kidney stones which are more than 6 mms in diameter need to be surgically removed through procedures such as ureteroscopy, percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL), open surgery and extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). A doctor takes a call on any of the above procedure if:
The patient is inching towards a kidney failure.
The pain doesn’t go away even after taking pain killers.
If the patient is pregnant (learn more about for healthy pregnancy)
If the patient is more than 60 years.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)-
ESWL is one of the simple and most preferred stone removing procedures. It involves the usage of ultrasound shock waves to break the bigger stones into smaller ones. The latter is then passed through urine. A patient is given a few painkillers since this mode of treatment could be a little uncomfortable. A patient might need multiple ESWLs to successfully get rid of all the stones.
If a stone gets stuck in the ureter, a medical procedure known as the ureteroscopy is performed. In this procedure, a thin telescope is passed through the urethra and bladder to the ureter. Either a second instrument is used or the telescope itself has laser energy to break the bigger stone into smaller ones. This procedure is ideal for stones that have a diameter more than 15 mm.
Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL)
PCNL is an alternative to ESWL for removing big stones. This procedure involves the usage of nephroscope that is routed into the kidney through a small incision made behind the back of the patient. This procedure requires general anesthesia and is effective for breaking stones that have a diameter of 20 mm or more. It has a success rate of 86%.
This is one of the older methods to eradicate kidney stones. Unless the stone size is abnormally large and other procedures cannot be performed, open surgery is generally avoided. An open surgery involves making an incision and getting access to the ureter and the kidney. The surgeon then removes the stone from the kidney. This procedure requires general anesthesia and the patient needs to be under observation for at least 24 hours, post surgery.