Laser Lithotripsy: What to Expect at Home
Laser lithotripsy is a way to treat kidney stones. This treatment uses a laser to break kidney stones into tiny pieces.
For several hours after the procedure you may have a burning feeling when you urinate. You may feel the urge to go even if you don't need to. This feeling should go away within a day. Drinking a lot of water can help.
Your doctor also may advise you to take medicine that numbs the burning. This medicine is called phenazopyridine. It is available by prescription as the brand name Pyridium.
Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. This will help prevent an infection.
You may have some blood in your urine for 2 or 3 days.
Your doctor may have placed a small tube inside one of your ureters. Ureters are the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder. The small tube the doctor may have placed is called a stent. It may help the stone fragments pass through your body. Your doctor may remove the stent in a few weeks.
Most stone fragments that are not removed will pass out of the body within 24 hours. But sometimes it can take many weeks. If you have a large stone, you may need to come back for more treatments.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Rest as much as you need to after you go home.
- You may do your regular activities. But avoid hard exercise or sports for about a week or until there is no blood in your urine.
- You can eat your normal diet after lithotripsy.
- Continue to drink plenty of fluids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
- Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You will also be given instructions about taking any new medicines.
- If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
- If you take medicine to stop the burning when you urinate, take it exactly as recommended. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. This medicine may colour your urine orange or red. This is normal. You will get more details on the specific medicine your doctor recommends.
- If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
- Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
- If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol). Do not take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) or similar medicines unless your doctor tells you to.
- Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
- Take a warm bath. This may soothe the burning.
- Urinate through the strainer the doctor gives you. Save any stone pieces, including those that look like sand or gravel. Take these to your doctor. This will help your doctor find the cause of your stones.
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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- You have chest pain, are short of breath, or cough up blood.
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
- You have new or more blood clots in your urine. (It is normal for the urine to be pink for a few days.)
- You cannot urinate.
- You have symptoms of a urinary tract infection. These may include:
- Pain or burning when you urinate.
- A frequent need to urinate without being able to pass much urine.
- Pain in the flank, which is just below the rib cage and above the waist on either side of the back.
- Blood in the urine.
- A fever.
- You are sick to your stomach or cannot drink fluids.
- You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
- Pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
- Redness and swelling in your leg.
Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.
Current as of: September 8, 2021