If you've recently discovered—the hard way—that you have a large kidney stone (or stones), you may be wondering about your treatment options. Many small stones will go away on their own without treatment, but stones that are too large (or risky) to pass will require some further intervention. There are several treatment options available, and the right choice for you will depend on your overall health, the size of your kidney stones, and the amount of discomfort you're experiencing. Read on to learn more about your treatment options, including surgery, for large kidney stones.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)
This tongue-tier of a name refers to sound-wave therapy. By applying strong vibrations to the area immediately surrounding the kidney stones, doctors can break up the stones into smaller pieces that can be passed more easily (and with less pain). The length of treatment will depend on the number and size of kidney stones you're dealing with, but for long procedures, you may be sedated for your own comfort.
Surgical Stone Removal
Very large kidney stones that are still lodged in the kidney may need to be surgically removed. This surgery is referred to as percutaneous nephrolithotomy and requires the surgeon to make an incision in your back and use a special scope, equipped with a video camera, to locate and remove the stones.
Removal With a Scope
In some situations, the stone may have made its way out of your kidney before it became stuck in your urinary tract. A doctor can use a special scope to retrieve and remove the stone before it passes further into your ureter. Depending on how far the stone has traveled and how much it has damaged your ureter, you may have a small stent placed inside your ureter to prevent any other stones from irritating it.
Surgical Removal of Parathyroid Tumors
Although some kidney stones are idiopathic—that is, without any identifiable cause—others can be readily attributed to another health condition. One common cause of kidney stones is a benign tumor on the parathyroid gland. Removing this tumor or the entire gland itself is usually enough to resolve this issue and prevent your kidney stones from coming back. Parathyroid gland surgery is generally done under general anesthesia and will usually require you to spend at least one night in the hospital.
Surgery can be a serious (and sobering) prospect. But when it comes to treating the pain of kidney stones, in many situations, surgery is the best of a series of less-than-ideal options. Find a clinic like The Surgical Clinic that provides surgical procedures to see what you can do.