Laser Lithotripsy: Before Your Procedure

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What is laser lithotripsy?

Laser lithotripsy

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 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.

What happens before the procedure?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your procedure. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before the procedure. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. Bring a copy to the hospital. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You may need to give a urine sample. This is to make sure that you do not have an infection.
  • Before the procedure, a health professional will clean the area around your urethra. He or she will also put numbing gel inside your urethra.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The procedure will take a few hours.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your procedure. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
  • You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: November 20, 2015