The pain and discomfort that often accompany kidney stones can be considerable, making finding relief a top priority. Thankfully, there are several different options when it comes to treating problematic kidney stones.
At Arizona Urology, our experienced team of urology experts routinely helps our patients find solutions for painful kidney stones — from letting nature run its course to innovative shockwave therapy.
If you’re struggling with kidney stones, here’s a quick review of the effective treatment options we offer at our practice.
Nature knows best
When you have kidney stones, our first order of business is to determine their size, number, locations, and type, which dictate how we proceed.
Under the best of circumstances, we might find that your stone is quite small and all it will take is some time for you to pass it naturally through your urine. We ask that you drink plenty of fluids to speed the process along and we may give you a medication to relax the muscles in your ureter. In these cases, we ask that you try and catch the stone so that we can examine it further.
When to step in
If we find that your stones are quite large and won’t pass without causing you considerable pain, as well as potential damage to your urinary tract, we may turn to one of these approaches:
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL)
This technique allows us to deliver soundwaves into your kidney stones to break them apart. The sound waves create a vibration, which is what causes the breakdown of the stone into much smaller pieces that you should be able to pass without issue.
This procedure can be uncomfortable so we ensure that you’re properly sedated or anesthetized. That said, it takes us less than an hour to perform your ESWL, after which time you’re usually free to go home.
Using a ureteroscope, which is a small lighted tube, we locate your stone and break it apart using special instruments. We thread the ureteroscope through your urethra, so there are no incisions, but we still ensure that you’re perfectly comfortable with general or local anesthesia. We generally perform this procedure on an outpatient basis, which means you’re free to return home afterward.
Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL)
With a PCNL, we remove the stones surgically through small incisions in your back. You’re under general anesthesia during a PCNL and you should count on spending a night or two at the hospital.
If your kidney stone(s) are causing more complications than just pain, we may have to resort to different types of surgery to remove the stone and repair any damage. These situations aren’t all that common as we’re usually able to tackle the stones using any of the treatments we outlined above long before they pose more serious problems.
If you’re struggling with kidney stones, please contact one of our four locations in Goodyear, Glendale, Gilbert, and Phoenix, Arizona.