What is laser stone surgery?
Over the years the number of treatments that are available for patients with ureteric and kidney stones has increased significantly – and the availability of lasers to treat stones has been a catalyst for many of these advances. Before you go ahead with any treatment for stones it is important that your surgeon discusses the many different options that may be appropriate for your particular stone.
One of the options that you may be offered is laser stone surgery. This is a minimally invasive form of surgery without any need for incisions in the body. The patient is given a general anaesthetic so that they are asleep throughout the operation. A very small telescope (a ureteroscope) is inserted via the urethra and bladder to access the ureters and kidneys. Once the stone is located it is necessary to have an energy source available that the surgeon can use to break up the stone under direct vision. The laser is ideal for this as it can be delivered with a high degree of accuracy to the operative site using fine, flexible fibre optic fibres that deliver a very high energy onto a tiny spot on the stone. The stone is fragmented and the pieces are then removed using small baskets. This will generally take less than 1 hour to complete.
After the surgery sometimes a ureteric stent is placed between the kidney and bladder. This helps to promote healing and allow the kidney to drain whilst the post-operative swelling settles. This is usually left in for around 1 week post-op.
What happens after laser stone surgery?
Some patients may pass some stone debris after the surgery as the stone fragments are often placed into the bladder once retrieved from the kidney or ureter.
As this is minimally invasive surgery it is likely that you will be able to return home the same day, providing you are feeling well and there are no complications from the general anaesthetic. It is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions when you return home. This will help to ensure that you heal well and do not cause yourself any damage. The advice you are likely to receive will include maintaining a high fluid intake, mobilise often and take simple painkillers as and when you need them. You may require a small amount of time off work and your surgeon can advise on this.
This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.