What are the treatments for kidney stones?

The treatment for a kidney stone depends on the size of the stone, what it is made of, whether it is causing pain and whether it is blocking your urinary tract. To answer these questions and to figure out the right treatment for you, your doctor might ask you to have a urine test, blood test, x-ray and/or CT scan. A CT scan sometimes uses contrast dye. If you have ever had a problem with contrast dye, be sure to tell your doctor about it before you have your CT scan.

If your test results show that your kidney stone is small, your doctor may tell you to take pain medicine and drink plenty of fluids to help push the stone through your urinary tract. If your kidney stone is large, or if it is blocking your urinary tract, additional treatment may be necessary.

One treatment option is shock wave lithotripsy. This treatment uses shock waves to break up the kidney stones into small pieces. After the treatment, the small pieces of the kidney stone will pass through your urinary tract and out of your body with your urine. This treatment usually takes 45 minutes to one hour and may be done under general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep and unable to feel pain.

Another treatment option is ureteroscopy. This treatment is also done under general anesthesia. The doctor uses a long tool shaped like a tube to find and remove the stone or to find and break the stone into small pieces. If the stone is small, the doctor may be able to remove it. If it is large, it may need to be broken into pieces. In this case, a laser will be used to break the stone into pieces that are small enough to pass through your urinary tract.

In rare cases, a surgery called percutaneous nephrolithotomy is needed to remove a kidney stone. During the surgery, a tube will be inserted directly into your kidney to remove the stone. You will need to be in the hospital for two to three days to have and recover from this treatment.