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Kidney Stones Health Center

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Ureteroscopy

For this procedure the surgeon, often a urologist, doesn't make any incisions (cuts in the body). He or she first inserts a thin viewing instrument (ureteroscope) into the urethra (the tube that leads from the outside of the body to the bladder). Then the doctor passes the ureteroscope through the bladder and the ureter, to get to where the kidney stone is located.

See a picture of ureteroscopy camera.gif.

Recommended Related to Kidney Stones

Understanding Kidney Stones -- the Basics

Kidney stones are created when certain substances in urine -- including calcium, oxalate, and sometimes uric acid -- crystallize. These minerals and salts form crystals, which can then join together and form a kidney stone. Kidney stones usually form within the kidney, where urine collects before flowing into the ureter, the tube that leads to the bladder. Small kidney stones are able to pass out of the body in the urine -- and may go completely unnoticed by you. But larger stones can irritate...

Read the Understanding Kidney Stones -- the Basics article > >

  • The urologist removes the kidney stone with forceps or by using an instrument with a "basket" that grabs the stone.
  • Smaller stones can be removed all in one piece. Larger stones may need to be broken up before they can be removed.
  • Several types of instruments are available to break up stones. But most urologists prefer to use a laser.

The urologist can also use the ureteroscope to reach a kidney stone that is stuck in the ureter just after it leaves the kidney. He or she may then try to push the stone back up into the kidney. After the stone is back in the kidney, the stone may be broken up using lithotripsy camera.gif.

What To Expect After Treatment

Most people are able to go home the same day of the procedure. But you may need to stay in the hospital. If you do, the stay is usually no more than 24 to 48 hours.

For several hours after the procedure you may have a burning feeling when you urinate. This feeling should go away within a day. Drinking a lot of water can help reduce the burning. Your doctor also may recommend you take medicine to numb the burning.

You may have some blood in your urine for 2 or 3 days.

Why It Is Done

Urologists use ureteroscopy to remove stones that are stuck in the ureter and are closer to the bladder than the kidney (in the lower third of the ureter). But newer technology is allowing ureteroscopy to be used even for small stones in or near the kidney.

How Well It Works

Ureteroscopy works for most people.

Risks

Complications are more likely when the stone is close to the kidney (upper third of the ureter) and include:

What To Think About

Ureteroscopy may be more difficult, or not possible, if you have had surgery on the abdomen or pelvis, an injury to the ureter, or an enlarged prostate.

Complete the special treatment information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Tushar J. Vachharajani, MD, FASN, FACP - Nephrology
Last Revised May 2, 2013

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 02, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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