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Kidney Stones

Treatments for Kidney Stones

Specific treatment for kidney stones will be determined by your physician based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the disease
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your opinion or preference

Some kidney stones pass out of the body without any intervention by a physician. In cases that cause lasting symptoms or other complications, kidney stones may be treated with various techniques, including the following:

  • Shock waves or extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). This treatment uses a machine to send shock waves directly to the kidney stone to break a large stone into smaller stones that will pass through the urinary system. There are two types of shock wave machines: with one machine, the patient sits in a tub of water, with the other, the patient lies on a table.
  • Ureteroscope. A long wire with a camera attached to it is inserted it into the patient's urethra and passed up through the bladder to the ureter where the stone is located. A cage is used to obtain the stone and remove it.
  • Tunnel surgery (also called percutaneous nephrolithotomy). A small cut is made in the patient's back and a narrow tunnel is made through the skin to the stone inside the kidney. The physician can remove the stone through this tunnel.

Locations for Kidney Stones