What to Expect During Laser Surgery for Kidney Stones?
Holmium Laser is used to break stones in the ureter as well as kidney stones during ureteroscopy procedure.
How is Laser Surgery for Kidney Stones Performed?
Treatment of kidney stones with laser is usually done under general anesthesia, with the patient fully asleep. Procedure can be done either in a hospital or an outpatient surgical center. It may also be performed in appropriately certified office settings. Typically, the procedure to break ureteral stones with laser is an outpatient procedure with the patient going home the same day.
Ureteroscopy Procedure Involves Looking in the Ureter and Kidney with a Small Camera
Most of the time, fragmentation of kidney stones with laser is performed during ureteroscopy or uretero-pyeloscopy procedure. Once patient goes to sleep, a small camera (ureteroscope) is introduced into the urethra (pee-hole) and then into the urinary bladder. Semirigid or flexible ureteroscope is then advanced to kidney or ureteral stone which may be located in the ureter or in the kidney. Once kidney stone is visualized by the surgeon, the laser is activated and is brought into direct contact with the stone. Kidney stone is fragmented into very small pieces 1-2 mm in diameter using Holmium laser. At this point, fragments may be retrieved by the surgeon for biochemical analysis.
The end of the procedure, most of the time, a ureteral stent which is a small plastic tube is positioned between the kidney and the bladder in order to allow proper healing after the procedure. While some patients may not even know they have a ureteral stent, other patients may experience stent pain. Stent pain typically occurs during urination as the urine is pushed back into the kidney.
Many patients who work in jobs that are not physically demanding may go back to routine activities the next day after the procedure. The ureteral stent is typically removed in the office, usually within 1-2 weeks after the procedure but may be left for longer after complex procedures.
Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger is a board certified urologist in NYC who specializes in treating men and women with kidney stones and ureteral stones.