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Surgical Management of Kidney Stones

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Anil Agarwal 90% (167 ratings)
MBBS, MS - Urology, DNB
Urologist, Guwahati  •  24 years experience
Surgical Management of Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are not exactly stones, but hard deposits that are composed of minerals such as calcium or uric acid. These deposits start accumulating and over time enlarge to form obstructions within the urinary tract. Most kidney stones pass out on their own with little or no medication required, but in some cases, they have to be taken out through surgery. Let us now look at the surgery options available for the removal of kidney stones and why they are needed.

Need for surgery:
You might have to opt for a surgical procedure if you are in a lot of pain and if the stone is very large and cannot pass out on its own. Surgery will also be advised if the stone blocks the urinary tract hampering the free flow of urine. There are four types of surgical procedures that can be done for kidney stones.

  1. Shockwave lithotripsy
  2. Ureteroscopy
  3. Percutaneous nephrolithotomy
  4. Open surgery

Shock Wave Lithotripsy
This is the most common procedure that is performed for the removal of a kidney stone. It works best for small or medium stones. It is noninvasive - there are no cuts or scars made in your skin. In this procedure, the doctor after identifying the exact location of the stone sends out shock waves aimed at your kidneys. This dislodges the stone and breaks it into small pieces. This is a painless procedure, and no hospitalization is needed. You might have blood in the urine for a few days after the procedure, but it is considered normal and heals on its own. Check with your doctor in case you experience any complications

Ureteroscopy
This procedure is recommended to treat stones in the kidneys and ureters. A thin, flexible scope is used to find and remove the stones. There are no cuts made, and you will be under anesthesia throughout the procedure. A thin scope is passed through your bladder and ureter to reach the kidney. Once the exact location of the stone is reached, the doctor uses a small basket to scoop out the stone. In case the stone is big, a laser is used to break the stones. This is procedure too does not require a hospital stay. Recovery time is short and you can get back to normal activities soon.


Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy or Percutaneous Nephrolithotripsy
This procedure is done when you have a large size stone and the other methods do not work. In this procedure, a small cut is made in the back, and a thin tube is inserted to reach the stone. Once it reaches the stone, high-frequency sound waves are used to break the stone. You will be under anesthesia throughout the procedure. This can be considered as the most successful types of procedure and is routinely used to remove large stones. Recovery time is short but a short stay in hospital of about a day will be required.

Open surgery
This procedure is rarely done nowadays as it involves the traditional method of surgery. However in some rare cases, when your stone is very large, and the other methods are not an option this approach is used. Hospitalization is required for this procedure and the recovery period usually takes between 4 to 6 weeks. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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