What is kidney stone removal surgery?
A kidney stone is a hard deposit of dissolved minerals that occurs in the kidney. It can cause blood in the urine and be very painful when passing through the urethra. Though painful, kidney stones are not dangerous.
Some kidney stones can get passed out on their own. Others which do not can be removed both surgically and through non-invasive procedures. There are four types of treatments or non-invasive procedures which may be performed:
- Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL): This is a non-invasive procedure that is used widely to remove small kidney stones. Not cuts are made for this procedure. It relies on non-electrical shockwaves that are transmitted through the body to hit the kidney stones. This helps to break down the stones into smaller pieces. The procedure might have to be repeated again if it does not give results in the first try.
- Ureteroscopy: No cuts are made in this procedure. The doctor uses a urethroscope, which is thin and flexible, to reach the kidney through the bladder and ureter. This helps them to find and remove the stones with a cage-like device. If the stones are bigger, shockwaves are used to break them down. A stent may be used during the surgery to allow the urine to pass from the kidney to the bladder.
- Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL): If the stone is large and cannot be removed through ESWL, PCNL is an option. The surgeon creates an incision in the back or the side and uses a nephroscope to locate and remove the kidney. Sound waves or laser might be required to break up larger stones for removal. A stent is kept in the kidney to allow the urine to drain.
- Open surgery: If there are complications like urinary infection or kidney damage, the doctor might recommend open surgery. Depending on the location of the stone, an incision is made. The surgeon uses a urethroscope to locate the kidney, which is broken down with special instruments and then removed.