Ureteroscopy and laser lithotripsy
Ureteroscopy and laser lithotripsy is a safe and effective operation to treat kidney stones. This is a minimally-
invasive procedure where kidney stones are destroyed with a special laser, without the need for any incisions.
Compared to extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (the destruction of stones with sound waves), ureteroscopy
and laser lithotripsy is more effective with a lower need for repeat treatments.
PREPARATION FOR SURGERY >
Medications to avoid prior to surgery
Discuss with your doctor when to stop any of your medications that affect bleeding including ASA (Aspirin/
Entrophen), warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), dipyridamole (Aggrenox), ticagrelor (Brilinta),
(Advil/Motrin) and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), dabigatran (Pradaxa), rivaroxaban
(Xarelto) and apixaban (Eliquis). If you have any questions about your medications prior to surgery, please
contact your surgeon.
Diet prior to surgery
You may eat your normal diet up until midnight the night before your surgery. Do not eat any solid food, milk
or cream after midnight the night before your surgery. You may drink up to 400 mL (1.5 cups) of water up to 3
hours before surgery. You many not drink any other fluids. You may have sips of water with your morning
THE SURGERY >
In the operating room
Ureteroscopy and laser lithotripsy is performed under a general anesthetic, meaning you will be asleep for the
operation. The operation is performed using small telescopes through the urethra (the tube that allows flow of
urine from the bladder). Your stone will be destroyed using a special laser. Once the stone has been destroyed, a
ureteral stent (a temporary plastic tube that runs from the kidney down to the bladder) will be inserted. The
operation typically takes 30-90 minutes.
Potential risks and complications
Although the operation is very safe, a number of potential risks exist. These include the following:
– Inability to treat the stone, requiring additional treatments in the future
– Incomplete treatment of the stone, requiring additional treatments in the future
– Injury to the ureter (the tube that drains urine from the kidney to the bladder)
– Scarring of the ureter, requiring additional treatments in the future to treat the scar
– Stent discomfort
– General risks associated with all types of surgery including heart attack, stroke and blood clots in the
legs or lungs
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER SURGERY >
During your stay in hospital
– Length of hospitalization: You can return home the day of your surgery.
– Pain: You may experience some mild discomfort after surgery in the kidney and/or in the bladder. This
can be treated with pain medications by mouth.
– Diet: You will be able to resume your normal diet after your surgery.
– Ambulation: You are encouraged to walk around beginning in the evening after your surgery.
After leaving the hospital
– Pain: You may experience some discomfort in kidney and/or bladder after your discharge. This can
usually be controlled with acetaminophen (Tylenol). You will be given a prescription for a stronger pain
medication in case it is needed.
– Showering: You may shower or take a bath the day of your surgery.
– Activity: Walking is strongly encouraged after your surgery. Prolonged lying in bed should be avoided
to prevent the development of blood clots in your legs. You do NOT have to avoid heavy lifting, sports,
vigorous activity or sexual activity; however, these activities may cause some discomfort.
– Diet: You may resume your normal diet once you have returned home from hospital.
– Work: Most people can return to work 2-3 days after surgery if they perform desk work or jobs with
minimal physical activity. If your work requires heavy lifting or strenuous activity, you may have mild
discomfort with work while the stent is inside your body.
– Antibiotics: You may be given a prescription for antibiotics to take after your surgery to prevent
– Stent symptoms: Some patients do not feel the stent when it is inside their body though most are aware
of some changes. Some patients experience bladder discomfort, pain with urination, increased frequency
and urgency of urination, a small amount of blood in the urine and discomfort in the kidney. You may
be prescribed a medication to help manage these symptoms called tamsulosin (Flomax), silodosin
(Rapaflo), oxybutynin (Ditropan), tolterodine (Detrol) or solifenacin (Vesicare).
– Stent removal: Your stent may have been left attached to a string, which will be taped or secured to the
outside of your body. Your surgeon will remove the stent by pulling on this string 5-10 days after your
surgery. You may be asked to remove your stent on your own by pulling on this string. If your stent
does not have a string, it must be removed in an outpatient clinic by cystoscopy (insertion of a small
telescope into the bladder.) This will typically be done 2-4 weeks after your surgery.
– Follow-up appointment: You will need an appointment to visit your surgeon to have your stent
removed. Please call your surgeon to schedule this appointment if it has not been done for you before
your discharge from hospital.
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE >
Contact your surgeon if you experience any of the following after surgery:
– Pain that is not controlled by your prescribed medications
– Unexplained fever over 38.5 degrees Celsius/101 degrees Fahrenheit
– Continuous leakage of urine (urinary incontinence)
– You have not received instructions on when your stent is to be removed or changed and it has
been 1 week since your surgery
Proceed immediately to the emergency room if you experience any of the following after surgery:
– Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
– You have a serious concern and are unable to contact your surgeon