Minimally Invasive Stone Surgery
There are several minimally-invasive surgical treatments to remove kidney stones. These include ureteroscopy, percutaneous nephrolithotripsy, and percutaneous nephrolithotomy.
The least invasive procedure is ureteroscopy. No incisions are involved as the surgeon inserts a ureteroscope equipped with a camera through the urethra and up into the ureter, the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. Once the stone is found within the ureter or kidney, it is either broken into pieces with a laser or captured and gently removed with a basket. Ureteroscopy works well on small- to medium-sized stones.
Percutaneous nephrolithotripsy is a procedure typically used for larger stones greater than 2 cm. An incision is made in the back, and a scope with a camera is inserted into the kidney. The kidney stone is broken up using larger instruments, and the pieces are removed through the nephroscope.
Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is similar to percutaneous nephrolithotripsy, except the stone is removed whole without being fragmented.
Ureteroscopy typically doesn’t require a hospital stay, although if a stent is put in place to hold the ureter open, it can cause irritative symptoms. The percutaneous procedures do require a hospital stay.
A non-invasive procedure called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy can also be used to fragment kidney stones using sound waves.