If you ever had a kidney stone, then you would be familiar with the severe pain it causes. Depending on the size of the stone and its location, it might pass on its own with the help of a few glasses of water. But sometimes, a stone may be too large to pass on and may get “hung up” in the urinary tract and it is unable to pass through the bladder and the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the bladder). This is the time you’ll need a doctor’s help to remove the stone so that you can put an end to painful symptoms and prevent serious damages to occur. A ureteroscope procedure, a non-invasive technique might be the answer for getting rid of the pain caused by the kidney stone.
What is ureteroscopy?
Ureteroscopy is a procedure that uses a thin, flexible scope called a ureteroscope, commonly used tool to diagnose and treat medical problems affecting the urinary tract. The scope is inserted through the urethral opening (the opening where urine exits the body) to the bladder and the ureters (the tube that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder).
If you have a small stone, the doctor will insert a scope into the ureter to remove the stone. The scope will have a small basket (to collect the stone) at the end of the wire that is run through an extra channel in the ureteroscope.
If you have a larger stone, the doctor will use a laser fiber that goes through the scope to break it apart. The pieces are then removed through the urinary tract. The entire procedure is performed without any incisions.
It is an outpatient procedure, which means that there is no hospital stay & you may go home a few hours after the procedure.
Can Ureteroscopy be used for a variety of stones?
Ureteroscopy can be used for small and medium-size stones that can be removed in one piece. The large stones are broken into small fragments and removed. Once the stone is removed, the doctor may use a scope to insert a small tube called a stent to help keep the ureter open while the area heals. The stent will be removed later.
Ureteroscope is made to remove stones in the ureter, it is not an option for patients who have stones in their kidneys and also if the stone is located high up in the ureter, close to the kidneys.
What tests are done before performing the ureteroscope?
To evaluate the size and location of the stone, imaging tests like X-rays or CT scans are done to determine if a ureteroscopy is the best option for you.
What are the risks of ureteroscopy?
The potential complications of ureteroscopy:
- Injury to the ureter
- You may have difficulty while urinating if there is swelling in the ureter
What to expect after the procedure?
The doctor may prescribe medications to prevent infections. Signs of infection include
- Worsening pain.
After the procedure, you may have mild to moderate pain that can be managed with medications. To relieve mild pain:
- You should drink plenty of water
- If the urethral opening is sore, you can apply a warm, damp cloth to reduce discomfort.
- You may feel some burning sensation when you urinate
- There could be some bleeding initially that can turn urine pink or brownish. This is reduced as the area heals. These symptoms will reduce once the stent is removed.
- Ice packs and heating pads may help relieve pain.