Kidney stones are hard deposits typically made up of minerals, salts, and other waste chemicals found in urine. The stone-like lumps form inside the kidneys and, if small enough, generally pass through the ureter and out through the urine stream. However, kidney stones can sometimes become too large and too painful to pass through the body on their own and may require help from a urologist.
Passing a kidney stone on your own is preferred, but even that can be extremely painful. In some cases, the doctors at Urology of Greater Atlanta can provide medication to help ease the pain of passing kidney stones. If we determine the stones are too large to pass, we’ll assess your specific needs and recommend one of the following treatments:
One of the most common, effective treatments for kidney stones is extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. With the use of high-energy sound waves, the kidney stones are broken into smaller pieces, making them easier to pass through and out of the body. It’s a noninvasive treatment that often requires only a local anesthetic. Several treatments may be necessary for larger stones.
While you’re under general anesthesia, your urologist passes a small scope through the urinary opening into your bladder and up into the ureter where the stone is located. They then use a laser to target the stone, breaking it into smaller pieces for extraction or making it possible to pass through the urinary tract. It’s a more invasive treatment compared to ESWL, but an effective option to use if ESWL doesn’t seem to work.
Surgery is rarely required to remove kidney stones, but it may become necessary if your kidney stones are too large to respond to other treatments.
With open surgery, your Urology of Greater Atlanta physician makes a small incision in your abdomen accessing the kidney to remove the stone. They insert a small catheter near the kidney to help drain urine while the kidney heals. With percutaneous removal, your doctor makes a small incision in your back to access the kidney and inserts a hollow tube to extract the kidney stone.