Laser lithotripsy is a procedure to treat kidney stones. It uses a laser to break the stones into very small pieces. These pieces can be removed during the procedure. Or they may pass out of the body in the urine.
You may be awake for the procedure. Or you may have medicine to make you sleep. Either way, you will not feel pain. The doctor may use an X-ray to find the stone.
First, the doctor puts a thin viewing scope with small tools, a camera, and a laser into your urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from your bladder to the outside of your body. Then the doctor moves the scope and tools through your urethra and bladder into your ureter. Ureters are the tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder. If needed, your doctor moves the scope into your kidney.
If the stone is large or is in your kidney, your doctor may need to make a small cut (incision) in your back and put a hollow tube into your kidney. In this case, the doctor uses the laser to break up the stone. Then he or she removes the pieces of the stone through the hollow tube.
Your doctor may also place a small, flexible tube inside one of your ureters. This tube is called a stent. It helps the pieces of the stone pass through your body. If you get a stent, your doctor will usually remove it in a few weeks.
Most people are able to go home the same day of the procedure.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.
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Current as of: March 14, 2018
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
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