Laser Lithotripsy: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

A kidney stone in the ureter

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 (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 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?

Activity

  • 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.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet after lithotripsy.
  • Continue to drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water. 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.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • 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 and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • If you take medicine to stop the burning when you urinate, take it exactly as recommended. Call your doctor 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.

Heat

  • Take a warm bath. This may soothe the burning.

Other instructions

  • 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 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 your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have severe pain when you urinate.
  • You have a fever over 100°F.
  • You are not able to urinate within 6 to 8 hours after the procedure.
  • Your urine is still bright red 48 hours after the procedure.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have pain or burning when you urinate. A burning sensation is normal for a day or two after the test, but call if it does not get better.
  • You have a frequent urge to urinate but can pass only small amounts of urine.
  • Your urine is pink or cloudy or smells bad. It is normal for the urine to have a pinkish colour for 2 or 3 days after the test, but call if it does not get better.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: November 20, 2015