If you’ve been playing a “wait and see” game with what you suspect might be a kidney stone moving through your urinary tract, these symptoms indicate that it’s time to see your urologist:
• Severe pain that won’t let you sit still or find a comfortable position
• Pain accompanied nausea, vomiting, fever and chills
• Difficulty urinating
• Blood in your urine
The treatment your doctor recommends for your kidney stone is dependent on the type of stone, the location, your overall health condition and the stone’s cause.
If you have small stones, no infection and enjoy healthy kidney function, your urologist may recommend that you wait and see if the stone will pass through your urine. You’ll probably rest at home, drink plenty of fluids (as much as 2 to 3 quarts a day), and take over-the-counter pain relievers. Your doctor may prescribe a medication known as an alpha blocker (Flomax) to relax the muscles in your ureter so you pass the stone more quickly and with less pain. Be sure to save your stone if possible, because your urologist will want to test it to determine the exact components to better plan your future treatment and lifestyle changes.
Treating Larger Stones
“According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearing House, nearly three million people visit health care providers and more than half a million people visit emergency rooms for kidney stone problems.”
Kidney stones can grow as large as golf balls. If you have a stone that is causing you severe pain, bleeding or repeated urinary tract infections, your urologist will perform one of several procedures to relieve the blockage or remove the stone.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL)
This non-invasive procedure is a popular choice for the treatment of small- to medium-sized stones in the kidney or ureter. It uses high-energy sound waves to create strong vibrations that shatter the stone while minimizing the effect on surrounding tissue.
The resulting stone fragments are the size of grains of sand and pass through the urine with minimal pain in 70 percent to 80 percent of patients. The ESWL procedure lasts about 45 to 60 minutes and is usually performed as an outpatient procedure using general anesthesia.
Ureteroscopy and laser lithotripsy
This procedure can be used to remove stones located anywhere from the kidney down to the bladder. The urologist passes a fiber optic instrument resembling a long, thin telescope equipped with a camera through your urethra and bladder to your ureter.
Once the stone is located, the urologist uses a laser to break up the stone into tiny fragments that then pass through your urine, or he extracts it with a small basket. Ureteroscopy is usually performed under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis.
Percutaneous Nephrostolithotomy (PCNL or tunnel surgery)
This inpatient procedure is often recommended for very large stones inside the kidney if ESWL was unsuccessful. Your doctor makes a small cut through the skin on your back and creates a narrow tunnel through the kidney to the stone.
Small telescopes and instruments are passed through the tunnel to locate and remove the stone. This procedure requires general anesthesia and a hospital stay of 2 to 3 days. Most patients get back to normal activities within two weeks.
Laparoscopic surgery, open surgery, and parathyroid gland surgery are sometimes used in special cases that are not amenable to the less invasive techniques.
Are you concerned that you might have a kidney stone? Revere Health Urology providers specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of pediatric and adult urinary problems in eight convenient Utah locations. We offer compassionate, personalized care tailored to your unique needs.