A kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms from crystallization of excreted substances in the urine. The stone may remain in the kidney or break loose and travel down the urinary tract. A small stone may pass all of the way out of the body, but a larger stone can get stuck in a ureter, the bladder, or the urethra. This may block the flow of urine and cause great pain. A kidney stone may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pearl, and some are as big as golf balls. They may be smooth, irregular in shape, or jagged, and are usually yellow or brown in color.
Living with kidney stones can be quite painful. But with newer, minimally invasive treatments, removing them doesn’t have to be.
Urologists at Gateway Regional Medical Center specialize in laser lithotripsy – an incision-free procedure that uses a laser to break kidney stones into tiny pieces. This technology may offer you a number of benefits compared to invasive surgery, including less pain, faster recovery and quicker return to your life.
About the Procedure
During laser lithotripsy, your urologist passes a thin, flexible instrument (ureteroscope) through the urinary tract. Once the stones are located, they are targeted and broken apart with an ultra-precise, state-of-the-art laser. The pieces are then immediately removed by your doctor using a special basket or left to wash out of the body with normal urine flow.
With advances in technology, laser lithotripsy has become the preferred treatment for small-to-medium sized kidney stones. Your doctor will help determine if you’re a good candidate, usually when other non-surgical options haven’t worked or if kidney stones are:
- Too large to pass
- Irregular in shape
- Causing bleeding or damage to surrounding tissue
It is also an alternative to extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), in which sound waves from outside the body are used to break up the stones. While both treatments are effective, laser lithotripsy can improve targeting no matter the size, location and/or hardness of the stones.
Recovery & Follow-Up Care
At Gateway Regional Medical Center, we usually perform the procedure on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia, allowing you to leave the hospital the same day and recover comfortably at home.
A small tube, called a stent, may be temporarily placed to help the kidney drain after the procedure. We can take out the stent quickly and easily in the office without the need for anesthesia.
Most stone fragments that are not removed pass out of the body within 24 hours, though sometimes it can take many weeks. Your doctor may also recommend preventive treatments to help reduce your risk of recurrent kidney stones.
Overall, complications are rare, and as a minimally invasive treatment, recovery time is usually short. If you experience persistent pain, signs of infection (fever, chills) or any worsening symptoms, call your doctor or seek medical attention right away.
Related Services and Conditions
Urology is a medical and surgical specialty that treats the urinary tract as well as men’s reproductive systems. As you live your life, the last thing you want to be bothered by is a urinary problem like a kidney stones, a UTI or incontinence. The urologists on staff...
If a urinary problem is causing concern or interrupting your life, the urologist at can help. ’s urologist specializes in cystoscopy, a simple procedure to diagnose, monitor, and treat conditions affecting the...
Impotence, or erectile dysfunction, is the inability to achieve an erection and/or dissatisfaction with the size, rigidity and/or duration of erections. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), erectile dysfunction affects up to 30 million men. Although...
More than 90 percent of all prostate cancers are discovered while they are either localized (confined to the prostate) or regional (nearby). The five-year survival rate for men diagnosed with prostate tumors discovered at these stages is nearly 100 percent. In the...
If you’re like the millions of Americans living with urinary incontinence, we know how disruptive it can be to your life and peace of mind. That’s why ’s urologist offers everything you need to take control. 's...
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are infections of the bladder and urethra that disproportionally affect older adults because of their vulnerability to develop a weakened immune system. Mobility limitations that may prevent good hygiene, and medical conditions, such as...
A vasectomy is a very effective way of preventing future pregnancies. The procedure can be done under local anesthesia and is considered to be very safe. During the procedure, the urologist makes a small incision and cuts, ties, or blocks the vas deferens. After this,...