In our most recent survey, we focused on the different options for treating a kidney stone. This includes both the non-surgical options (letting the stone pass on its own, taking a home remedy to pass/dissolve a stone, taking a medication from your doctor to help pass the stone) and surgical options (shockwave lithotripsy, ureteroscopy, percutaneous surgery).
We wanted to know why patients chose one treatment option over another, how successful was their treatment, how satisfied were they with their treatment, what they liked the most, and what they liked the least about their treatment option. And importantly, we also asked whether they would choose this option again if they needed another stone treatment.
So far, we’ve had 205 responses to the survey, summarized below. We hope that this information will help you to better understand the different treatment options available for treating a kidney stone and allow you to make an informed choice. One disclaimer- not all treatment options are necessarily available for all stones in all patients. As always, we always recommend that you work with your medical professional to choose the best option for you.
The one paragraph summary:
About half of people who responded to this survey underwent ureteroscopy and a quarter underwent shockwave lithotripsy. 14% passed a stone on their own. Most people relied on their doctor’s opinion to help choose their treatment option. Success with treatment ranged from 42% for percutaneous nephrolithotripsy to 70% for ureteroscopy. Not surprisingly, successful stone removal was the most important priority for patients undergoing stone treatment. Having to have a stent, having to wait for treatment, and pain related with treatment were the least liked aspects of stone treatment. For the most part, people were moderately satisfied with their stone treatment, reporting a satisfaction score in the mid 3’s on a scale of 1 to 5 for almost all of the different treatment options. However, people who passed a stone on their own were the least satisfied, reporting the lowest satisfaction score of 2.9. This was also reflected in how likely patients were to consider the same treatment again, with passing a stone on your own having a likely score of 2.9 on a scale of 1 to 5 with “5” being “definitely” and “1” being “not a chance”. All the other treatment options had an average likely score in the mid to high 3’s. Read further if you want all the details and let us know in the comments section whether you agree with these results.
The nitty gritty results:
What type of stone treatment did you have?
About half (45%) of individuals underwent ureteroscopy, 26% underwent shockwave lithotripsy, and 6% underwent percutaneous nephrolithotripsy. Among those who did not have surgery, 14% passed the stone on their own, and 8% took a medication from their doctor. Only 1% of people who responded to the survey reported using a home remedy.
The most common reason by far given for choosing a treatment option was because of a recommendation by a doctor. Having a high chance of success was the second most common reason given. “Other” was the third most common and to avoid surgery was the fourth most common reason.
Among the surgical treatments, individuals who underwent ureteroscopy had the highest success rate (70%). Shockwave lithotripsy was less successful at 54%. Percutaneous nephrolithotripsy, which is usually used for the largest types of stones, had a lower success rate of 42%. Individuals who tried to pass their stone themselves were successful 68% of the time while those who used a medication or home remedy to help pass the stone were less often successful (56% and 50%).
For the most part, satisfaction did not differ that much between most of the different treatment choices. Among both surgical and non-surgical treatments, individuals who underwent ureteroscopy were the most satisfied with their choice, with an average score of 3.4 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most satisfied. This was followed by using a medication to pass a stone (3.3), percutaneous nephrolithotripsy (3.3), shockwave lithotripsy (3.2), and using a home remedy (3.0). Individuals who passed their stone on their own stood out as being the least satisfied with their choice, reporting an average satisfaction score of only 2.9.
When asked about what they liked most about their stone treatment, successful removal of their stone clearly mattered the most, reported more commonly than all other responses combined. Avoiding surgery and not having to be hospitalized were the second and third most liked feature of treatments reported.
Given the amount of discomfort that many patients experience with stents, it is not surprising that having to have a ureteral stent was the most disliked aspect of treatments reported. The wait time before being treated or passing a stone was the second most common disliked aspect of a treatment. Pain related to treatment was the third most commonly reported disliked aspect.
Individuals who used a prescribed medication to pass their stone were the most likely to choose this option again, with an average score of 3.7 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being most likely. This was followed by those who used a home remedy who had a score of 3.5. Of the surgical treatments, ureteroscopy and shockwave lithotripsy, had similar likely scores of 3.4 while percutaneous nephrolithotripsy had a slightly higher score of 3.5. Individuals who attempted to pass their stone on their own stood out as being the least enthusiastic about choosing this option again with a score of 2.9.