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Surgery for Kidney Stones

Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL)
Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL) is the most frequently used procedure for the treatment of kidney stones. In ESWL, shock waves that are created outside the body travel through the skin and body tissues until they hit the kidney stones. After the stones have been hit, they will break down into sand-like particles that can easily pass through the urinary tract.
 
In most cases, ESWL may be done on an outpatient basis. Recovery time is short, and most people can resume normal activities in a few days.
 
Possible complications of ESWL include, but are not limited to:
 
  • Blood in urine
  • Bruising
  • Minor discomfort in back or abdomen.
 
Additional treatments may be needed if the stone is not completely shattered with one treatment, and ESWL should not be used for large stones.

(Click Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy for more information.)
 
Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy
This procedure, also known as tunnel surgery, may be needed to remove kidney stones. Tunnel surgery is used for large kidney stones or for kidney stones that are in a location that does not allow ESWL.
 
In tunnel surgery, the surgeon makes a tiny incision in the back that creates a tunnel directly into the kidney. Using an instrument called a nephroscope, the surgeon locates and removes the stone. For large stones, an energy probe (ultrasonic or electrohydraulic) may be needed to break the stone into smaller pieces. In most cases, patients will need to stay in the hospital for several days after tunnel surgery.
 
One advantage of tunnel surgery is that the surgeon will have removed the stone fragments instead of relying on their natural passage from the kidney through the urinary tract.

Treatment for Kidney Stones

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