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.

286 Responses to Ureteroscopy

  1. I had this ureteroscopy done in Feb of 2017 for a three mm stone that was causing quite a lot of back. My lower back still hurts off on and the leg does too. Maybe they hit a nerve when they put the in I don’t know.

  2. Mary Ritchie says:

    This is a painful barbaric procedure. This so call small scope is inserted into your Urethra [hole you pee out]….Ohhh didn’t realize well, take a look at that so called ‘small’ camera. Surgery went seemingly well, then at home take Motrin, call Dr oh well thats why we gave you Oxicodone in case the pain intensified. Take the Oxi and Motrin. Every time you urinate its burning / painful and you go a great deal because of the stint. Three days with the stint and they lead you to believe it will all be over on day 3…Frig no! The stint comes out…they describe a small tube that allows the Ureter and surgical area to heal….they forget to tell you about the small coils holding it in place. Now with NO ANESTHESIA they place the scope back in your already tender urethra and remove the stint…as the coil uncoils and stint removed it creates further irritation. This ‘Irritation’ subsides in a day or so…. Well they omit telling you about the SEVERE cramping and pain like a horse has kicked your kidney that causes nausea and vomiting. Pain like you never had in life, Doctor just take the Motrin. Nausea, pain take Motrin now you vomit and that continues for hours until you end up in the ER……. Incision vs this torture…..INCISION!

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