Ureteroscopy

Diagram of ureteroscopy and laser lithotripsy

Ureteroscopy involves the use of a small flexible or rigid device called a ureteroscope to directly see and treat stones. The ureteroscope device, which provides a video image and has small “working” channels, is inserted into the bladder and up the ureter until the stone is encountered. The stone can then either be broken up with a laser fiber or pulled out using small baskets that are inserted into the working channels. The advantage of this type of surgery is that the body’s normal openings are used and no incisions are necessary. A photo of a flexible ureteroscope and a video of ureteroscopy with laser lithotripsy is shown below.

Diagram of ureteroscopy and laser lithotripsy

Flexible ureteroscope treating a stone in a kidney

Ureteroscopy often a good option for small stones in the ureter or kidney. Its success rate at clearing these types of stones is generally higher than that for shockwave lithotripsy. Compared with shockwave lithotripsy however, it may associated with increased discomfort after surgery, especially when a stent is required. Ureteroscopy also does  not always work as well with very large stones, as the small size of the instrument makes it difficult to completely treat and remove such stones. In these cases a percutaneous approach may be preferable. For more information on comparing the surgical options for kidney stones, see our comparison chart.

 

Fast facts about ureteroscopy:

  • Typical operative time: 1 hour
  • Usual hospital stay: Usually none, ureteroscopy is outpatient surgery
  • Average number of days before going back to work: 8.5 days
  • Average number of days before feeling back to normal: 15.6 days

Data regarding return to work and recovery from a study by Pearle and colleagues, Journal of Urology, 2005.

Ureteroscope closeup photo

Photo of a ureteroscope next to a pen

 

Video of flexible ureteroscopy and holmium laser lithotripsy in a patient with multiple large uric acid stones.

231 Responses to Ureteroscopy

  1. Rob Riddel says:

    Date: 7/24/16.
    I am a 55 year old male. I had a 6mm x 10mm stone removed 5 days ago with laser treatment and then they installed a stent. My procedure lasted 70 minutes. They sent me home with prescriptions (Morphine for pain), but it was so late to have them filled, the pharmacy where I lived was closed. So I relied on taking left over oxycodene pills I had from my ER visit a few days before the surgery. Big mistake. The pain I experience after the surgery was 5 times greater than the actual kidney stone pain. The burning during urination was so bad, I panicked every time I had to urinate. Today is day 5 and I feel fine. I have to have the stent removed in a week from now. I am not looking forward to that. Drink plenty of water. One thing I have to mention that helped me with the pain. The first night after my surgery was the worst ever. Up all night. I used heat patches on my back to alleviate the pain. It worked for me somewhat. I recommend trying these options because they worked for me. I downloaded an app on my cell phone that reminds me to drink a glass of water. Works great. Good luck all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *