Kidney Stones Surgical Treatment

Overview of Kidney Stones Surgical Treatment

There are four types of kidney stones surgical treatments that may be done if you are experiencing kidney stones. Kidney stones are typically hard deposits that are made of calcium and are found in the kidneys. In some cases, kidney stones are too large to be passed without surgery. To decide which procedure will be right for you, then you will need to schedule a consultation with our physicians.

What are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are made from calcium or waste products. They are hard deposits that start small and will grow bigger as more minerals stick to them. Most of the time, kidney stones will pass on their own, but sometimes they are too large to pass without treatment. They can be painful and they may need surgery to be removed. You will be recommended for surgery if the stone is too large, too painful, the stone blocks the urine, or if you have recently had urinary tract infections because of it.

Types of Kidney Stones Surgical Treatments

There are four main surgical treatments for kidney stones that may be recommended for you. These include:

  • Ureteroscopy
  • Shock wave lithotripsy
  • Open surgery
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy or percutaneous nephrolithotripsy


Ureteroscopy is a procedure that helps to treat the stones that are found in the kidneys and the ureters. Your physician will use a thin and flexible scope to look for and remove the stones in the bladder, ureter, and the kidneys. A small basket is used to remove the stones or a laser will be used to break up larger stones. There are no incisions that are made into the skin. You will be asleep for this procedure and will be able to go home the same day as this procedure. A stent may be placed in the ureter to aid in draining urine from the kidney into the bladder. You will need to go for a follow-up for ten days after surgery to have the stent removed. There are no real risks with this procedure. In rare cases, you may experience bleeding, infection, or narrowing of the ureter.

Open Surgery

Open surgery is rarely done for kidney stones, but it may be done if the kidney stone is very large or cannot be removed or crushed. This is typically done if other treatments have not been successful. This is a good option if the stones are stuck in the ureter, you are in severe pain, bleeding, or have an infection. During this procedure, you will be unconscious. The physician will make a cut into the side of the kidney and the stone will be removed through the opening. A stent will be placed to aid in draining the urine. You may be put into the hospital for a couple of days.

Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy or Percutaneous Nephrolithotripsy

If your stone is too large or if lithotripsy has been unsuccessful, then this surgery is typically the next option. PCNL uses a small tube to reach the stone and to break it up through high-frequency sound waves. You will not be awake during this procedure. Your physician will make a small cut in the back or side and a thin scope will be placed into the hole. There are two options for this type of surgery. Nephrolithotomy is where the physician removes the stone through the tube. Nephrolithotripsy is where the physician will use the sound waves or a laser to break the stone up and then will vacuum it through a suction machine. This procedure will last from 20-45 minutes. You will stay in the hospital for about two days. A stent will be placed to drain the urine. Your physician will recommend an x-ray or ultrasound a couple of weeks after surgery to see if there are any stones left. Some of the kidney stones may be sent to testing to see what they are made of. The risks from this include infection, bleeding, or damage to the kidneys.

Which Surgery is Right for You?

You will want to talk to your physician about what procedure will be right for you. Speak with your physician about your symptoms and what your concerns are. Once you have discussed what you are experiencing, you can work through the advantages and disadvantages of each of the procedures to see which one will be right for you. Ask your physician about anything that you are worried about, such as side effects from the various surgeries and if you are likely to have to repeat certain procedures.