Approximately one out of 500 Americans develop kidney stones each year. Laser lithotripsy is a minimally invasive procedure that breaks down and removes stones from the urinary bladder, kidneys and ureters.
While many patients do safely pass kidney stones without residual sequela, while others need surgical intervention.
How it Works
Laser lithotripsy is a non-invasive surgical procedure used to remove any stones in the urinary tract. These stones can be located in one of four areas; the bladder, kidneys, urethra, and ureters.
Through a ureteroscope, a laser fiber is put through the urethra in order to break up the stones. The stones will either be passed with urination or removed by the urologist. This a minimally invasive procedure, which does not involve surgical incisions. Unlike some operations, laser lithotripsy is proven to be very effective as it can treat any stone regardless of location, hardness and size.
Prior to surgery, be sure to check with your physician to find out if you should avoid certain medications. As with any other kind of surgical procedure, you will also be asked to not eat or drink anything on the day of your operation to avoid possible aspiration while sedated.
Am I a Candidate?
If a kidney stone dislodges from within the kidney, it can make its way down the more narrow passageways and become lodged within the urinary tract. In some cases, the kidney stone may be small enough to go down the urinary tract without causing any discomfort. On the other hand, there are also stones that can have sharp, rugged edges that will cause extreme pain and discomfort. The most common areas where kidney stones get stuck in are the ureters, urethra and bladder. If you are unable to pass the stone, you may be a suitable candidate for the procedure.
There are four types of kidney stones that can form:
- Calcium stones – Excess calcium that isn’t processed by the body can be prone to combining with other wastes that form a kidney stone.
- Uric acid stones – These stones can appear if a person’s urine is too acidic.
- Struvite stones – Struvite stones are made up of three things; phosphate, ammonia and magnesium and they can show up during or after a urinary tract infection (UTI).
- Cystine stones – This particular stone is made up of what is considered a building block for muscles: cystine.
What You Can Expect
After the procedure, your urologist will give you postoperative instructions for your discharge. These will include information about pain control, what type of activities you should avoid, and when you should return for follow-up.