How do I choose which surgery to have for my kidney stones?

Understanding what is the best option for treating your kidney stone can be difficult. In our new chart, we summarize the benefits and drawbacks of each surgical option. While it still won’t make the decision for you, it can help you to make an informed decision when talking to your urologist. For more detailed information and videos, see our treatment pages.

We always welcome feedback. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve the chart by leaving a comment below.

About Dr. Mike Nguyen

Mike M Nguyen, MD, MPH, is a urologist and an Associate Professor of Clinical Urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, CA. He specializes in the treatment of kidney stones with both surgery and dietary prevention and the in the treatment of kidney and prostate cancer using the latest robotic surgical approaches. He sees patients at clinics located in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and La Canada, CA. He is the founder of the www.KidneyStoners.org website.
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60 Responses to How do I choose which surgery to have for my kidney stones?

  1. Jan says:

    I’m the kidney stone queen! I have had probably 10 lithotripsy and one where they remove it with a small incision in the back. The stone covered 75% of my kidney. My advise to anyone. I learned my lesson about waiting! I thought I went to the best at Shands in Gainesville.. There were 2 surgeries..1st one Dec 2012 had to put a pee bag on my back for 3 weeks until I went back for the second round where they hit near my line in between the lung and somewhere….can’t remember……Chest tube was needed and that by far was worse than the actual surgery! We are talking 8 hours altogether a stent, chest tube, pee bag and staff infection…..and the worst experience of my life…

    So, I say do it before it gets worse! Just had another lithotripsy today on my other side that was 1 cm. I have two on the other side that I will get done shortly. Hey it lasted 5 years…plus no stent and I can play tennis in Tues! Lol.

  2. Sahaj Patel says:

    My mother has a 24mm Stone. And she is also in diabetic. So, pls give me suggestion which operation is better for them???

  3. Surya pratap singh says:

    Hello sir ,i have kidney stone of size 1cm in upper ureter .i want to know that is it necessary for operation or medicine are sufficient

  4. Robert says:

    Hi I have a 12mm renal stone in my right kidney and on my left side kidney I have a lower polar cyst lesson . What are these ? and what surgery would I be receiving.

  5. Jeannie says:

    Don’t freak out, it’s not that painful. Having my IV started was the worst part of the entire experience. The first time I was on here I was looking for information on what to expect, everything I read sent me further into panic mode and my anxiety level was at a 10. I am writing to let those who are going through or getting ready to go through this experience for the first time to know, it’s not that bad. My anxiety was worse than the actual procedure, recovery time and stent removal combined. I did water aerobics twice while I had my stent in place, granted I did modify my routine somewhat, but I was able to get out there and excerise.
    I have had two ureterscopy and cystoscopy with double j stent placement done within the last 6 weeks. The first was to remove a 5.4mm in my ureter, a 6.5mm and 5.4mm with the scraping of the walls of the right kidney to remove beginning stones
    with a double j stent placement. The second was to remove a 15mm stone in my left kidney, however when my Urologist was there he found two other stones between 4
    5mm, with others beginning. He took care of all those however, the15mm stone was unable to be removed, it was in one of the”pockets” of the kidney and will grow until that pocket is filled up. As long as I am having no problems, we will leave that stone alone. Again, a double j stent as been put into place. I am post-op 4 days now, having mild, very very mild periodic cramping at times.
    Yes, I have to say the first time you urinate after surgery, there is minimal burning, but that was the worst of it. Especially considering that you are still under the effects of general anesthia…it’s nothing. Since the first time urinating I have had no burning, but continue to have cranberry colored urine from the procedure, which is normal. I have experienced cramping, no worst than menstural cramps. The removal of the stent is a cake walk. I experienced no pain at all, just a feeling of pressure that lasted maybe 3 seconds.
    I am writing to let those out there getting ready to experience one or both of these procedures, it’s is not bad, and you are going to breeze right through this with no problem.

    • Beth says:

      Thank you very much for this information. It’s really helpful especially for a first timer like me. Praying for your fast recovery. God bless.

    • Jamie says:

      I had horrible pain with my stent placement. I had to go to the ER!! Non stop vomiting. I missed 3 weeks of work. My doctor Tried the ureterscopy but was not able to reach the stone. She wants to see me next year to have a ultrasound. I had lithotripsy already and that did not work. I was told the next surgery would be going into my back into my kidney to remove the stone. I’m nervous about it. But for now she wants to monitor meZ

  6. bebe says:

    I had laser lithography in February this year but still feeling mild pain and back pain. lvu results show no stones, please your response is highly appreciated. even though the Doctor did not put stent during the procedure.

  7. rishi kumar. says:

    i have only one stone/caculi of 6.6mm in the mid pole of left kidny since 2009.it has not moved from mid pole since then.one doctor advised for lithotripsy.is it neccessary to go for lithotripsy ?.no notable pain so far

    • No sir. Don’t touch it till you will have severe pain. I had 4 KS in my LK. The biggest was 43 mm and 3 of it from 12-19 mm. I suffered for 3 years. Finally I had a PCNL surgery in Iran with a great sucess. Everything was fine and the total cost was only about 50$ (Fifty US$). Unbeleivable. I received a high class service with 3 nights at the hospital and the X-Ray after the operation showed just one 15 mm stone left there. So next week I will go through an ESWL operation and that’s it. Iran has got several hospitals very specialist in kidney operations.

  8. Bhavesh Thakker says:

    i have stone at my left or right side but leftside i have operation yesterday so dj stent recently put inside so its possible to right side on lithotripsy esl process?

  9. bharti singh says:

    I m 17 mm kidney stone in a raight side
    i advice to Dr pls tell me
    and i m pragancy reciveded in a 7 week
    Dr. Pls tell me my salution
    ki muje kya karna chahiye
    pls tell me ans

  10. Irfan Ahmed says:

    I have a 13 mm stone slipped from kidney and travelling towards bladder. Doctors have suggested URS. Is there any other way? Is URS painful? Is there any side effects I.e. infection ect.?

  11. RAJ PATEL says:

    Dr. Iam having 17mm kidney stone in side it pain me back n in blader heavy what should I do go for surgery or medicine pls advice me

  12. ishant says:

    Sir 11.5 mm stone is in Left Kidney PUJ Region is it will be pass easily or surgery is required if yes then which ?

    • If you have pain, an Ureteroscopy could help you easily. Also an ESWL may help to breakdown the stone. Using a stent will help you to pass it with the least possible pain for the passage of the stone through urinary.

  13. Rich says:

    Have had two stents for stones. While the stent may be unconfortable, passing of the stones is painless down to the bladder. Placing of a stent is painless as anesthesia is used, removal of a stent is a very quick procedure which should be done under anesthesia.

  14. Zivia says:

    Have had litho twice, stones still in kidney but smaller. Was going to leave it, but u can’t get travel insurance, so I am considering surgery, but afraid odd stint horror stories. I can leave them and zap them again if they grow. Just afraid of them leaving kidney and travelling. Have had side and upper back pain, on and off

    • Don’t be affraid of! I was travelling round the world with 4 of it. 12 – 43 mm. Finally I got the operation (PCNL) and now I got one 12-15 mm there. So I will go through ESWL by the next week. Good Luck and there is nothing to be affraid of.

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