Other treatments for kidney stones are much more common than surgery. You may need one of these treatments if your pain is very bad, your stone is blocking the urinary tract, or you have an infection. Your options include:
- Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). ESWL uses shock waves that pass easily through the body but are strong enough to break up a kidney stone. This is the most commonly used medical procedure for treating kidney stones.
- Ureteroscopy. The surgeon passes a very thin viewing tool (ureteroscope) up the urinary tract to the stone's location, and then he or she uses tools to remove the stone or break it up for easier removal. You may need a small, hollow tube (ureteral stent) placed in the ureter to keep it open for a short time and drain urine and any stone pieces. This procedure is often used for stones that have moved from the kidney to the ureter.
Whether these treatments will work for you will depend on the size of the stone, its location in the urinary tract, and your overall health.