Nearly nine percent of people in the U.S. have had at least one kidney stone, and if you’re among them, you know just how painful they can be. Depending on the size of your stone and where it’s located, it might pass on its own — maybe with the help of a few (or many) glasses of water. But sometimes, a stone is too large to pass on its own, or it may get stuck or “hung up” in the urinary tract so it’s not able to pass through to your bladder and your urethra (the tube that carries urine out of your bladder). When that happens, you’ll need a doctor’s help to remove the stone so you can put an end to painful symptoms and prevent more serious damage from occurring. While a few very large stones may require traditional surgery using an incision (usually through your back) to access the stone and remove it, Dr. Lesani can remove many stones using a non-invasive technique called ureteroscopy.
What is ureteroscopy?
Ureteroscopy is a procedure that uses a very thin, flexible scope called a ureteroscope that’s designed to diagnose and treat medical problems that affect the urinary tract. The scope is inserted through your urethral opening (the opening where urine exits the body) and carefully advanced along the urinary tract into the bladder and ureters (the two tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder). For kidney stones that get lodged in one of your ureters, Dr. Lesani can use the scope to look inside the ureter to evaluate the stone, then use special instruments attached to the scope to “grab” the stone and remove it. Ureteroscopy usually is performed on an outpatient basis using general anesthesia.
Can ureteroscopy be used for all types of stones?
Ureteroscopy can be an ideal solution for people with small to medium stones that can be removed in one piece. For large stones, ureteroscopy can still be an option. When a stone can’t be removed by simple manipulation with the scope, Dr. Lesani may use special techniques to break apart the stone into smaller fragments which can then be removed. Once the stone is removed, Dr. Lesani may use the scope to insert a small tube called a stent to help keep the ureter open while the area heals. The stent will be removed during a future outpatient procedure.
Because the ureteroscope is designed to remove stones in the ureter, it’s not an option for patients who have stones in their kidneys. It also may not be ideal for stones that are located high up in the ureter, near the kidneys. Before performing a ureteroscopy, Dr. Lesani will evaluate the size and location of your stone using diagnostic imaging techniques like X-rays or CT scans to determine if ureteroscopy is the best option for you.
After your procedure: What to expect
Once your procedure is over, you’ll spend a short period of time in a recovery area for observation before being discharged. Since you will have had anesthesia, you’ll need to arrange to have someone drive you home. Once you’re home, you’ll want to rest and drink plenty of water. If you have discomfort, you can manage it with over-the-counter pain medication, or Dr. Lesani may prescribe pain medicine for the early healing stages. He may also prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection.
If the urethral opening is sore, you can apply a warm, damp cloth to reduce irritation and discomfort. It’s not uncommon to have some burning when you urinate, and there may be some bleeding initially that can turn your urine pinkish or brownish. The bleeding will subside as the area heals; if you have a stent, it may not resolve until it’s removed. Ice packs or a heating pad may help relieve cramping that can occur following your procedure. Dr. Lesani will provide you with complete instructions before you’re discharged home.
Do you have kidney stones?
Lots of people have one or two kidney stones during their lifetime, but if you have chronic kidney stones, there may be steps you can take to help prevent them. As a top-ranked urologist in Las Vegas, Dr. Alex Lesani can help you get the care and treatment you need to manage your condition and enjoy better health. To learn more about the treatments he offers, book an appointment online today.