Lithotripsy is a surgery to break up a kidney stone into smaller pieces to help pass. Lithotripsy uses shock waves to break the kidney stones into smaller pieces to allow the pieces to pass through the urinary tract.
Lithotripsy is used on small to medium size kidney stones and is quite an effective treatment option for stones.
Prior to the surgery you will have to prepare and change your diet. 36 hours before Lithotripsy surgery you will be placed in a liquid diet with the goal to clean your digestive track. You will be given drugs to help the process with an enema the evening before the surgery. In other words you and your toilet will spend a lot of time together.
Before surgery the only other thing to do is shower and thoroughly clean your genitals. When you arrive for the surgery you will change into only a gown and be placed on a sedative or anesthesia.
The procedure is performed out patient and can be preformed in an hour or so. You will lie on your back on a water filled cushion. This table will allow the waves to pass where they are needed to break up the stones. Multiple x-rays might be required to precisely locate the location of the stone. The doctor will use ultrasound to target the stone and break it up into smaller pieces. Sound waves will pass harmlessly through your body but will break up the stone into many small pieces. You should not have any discomfort or marks on your body from the lithotripsy outside of potential small red mark similar to that of a rubber band being snapped.
You will now have lots of small stones instead of large stones, the problem is that you still need to pass these small stones. Your doctor will probably insert a stent from your kidney to help the small stones to pass. A couple of days later to a week the stent will be removed.
After the surgery to remove the kidney stones you will be able to go home without additional observation in the hospital. You will need someone to drive you home as the sedative will make driving unsafe. You may notice blood in your urine after the operation, this is normal. You may be asked to strain your urine to collect the stones for analysis.
This technique works well for people who have a stone larger than 4mm. Smaller stones will typically pass by themselves, stones that are too big will have to be treated by another procedure. If you are pregnant, have a kidney infection, bleeding disorder, UTI or cancer in the kidney you are not eligible for lithotripsy to remove kidney stones
kidney stone lithotripsy is not a replacement for preventive measures. However, it is a possible solution when you have a stone that will not pass by itself. Make sure to drink plenty of water to help prevent stones from forming and prevent surgery. You may be told that you need to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water to prevent stones but a better measure is to monitor your urine. Your urine should be clear, having yellow in your urine means that you need to drink more to help prevent kidney stones.
Sound waves work on most type of stones but not very well on cystine kidney stones as these stones do not break up as well as other type of stones.
The cost of lithotripsy, like any other medical service will vary. Check with your insurance company and urologist for an actual cost.
Ureteroscopy: a technique that goes through the bladder to reach the stone.
nephrolithotomy: your doctor will make and go through a small incision in your back.
Open surgery: in rare cases, this technique involves a large incision in your abdomen.
In 2009 I had a lithotripsy performed. I changed into a hospital gown, at this point there is no personal space left. It only took about an hour to have the procedure. After words I didn't feel any pain but they did insert a stent inside me. The stent was a plastic tube inserted through the penis, all the way up to the kidney with a string hanging outside of the penis for removal. Living with this stent inside was probably worse than the stone pieces. Every move made I could feel the stent inside and was hard to get comfortable for sleeping. The stent was supposed to remain for 10 days but after 4 days I removed the stent. There was also less sensation at the tip of the penis from the procedure. The doctor said this was from swelling and would return but the full sensation never did return. This was my experience, yours may very.
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