Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PNL) is a surgical procedure used to break or remove a kidney stone. Patients aren’t awake during the procedure and no pain is felt. Larger stones are removed via open surgery, where the surgeon cuts a hole in the side of the kidney and removes the stone through the opening. Afterwards, the patient is released and can go home. However, if the stone is large, PNL may not be an option.
For patients suffering from the pain, a trip to the emergency room (ED) is in order. There, an IV can be used to rehydrate those unable to keep liquids down. If the patient has a fever, he or she should be admitted to the hospital, as the stones are usually very hard to dissolve. If the pain does not worsen, there may be another underlying problem, such as an infection. Once a patient is admitted to the hospital, he or she will be offered a variety of treatments for the condition.
If a patient can tolerate the pain, the most common treatment for kidney stones is extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), which uses high-energy sound waves to break up the stone inside the ureter. The procedure requires anesthesia and lasts an hour. However, if the stone is too large or too far from the ureter, the doctor may recommend another treatment method, such as surgery or a medication.
In addition to physical treatments, the X-ray can also help identify whether the stone has become a threat for your health. Drinking enough water and changing your diet are two ways to reduce the risk of kidney stones. Medications may be used to lower the amount of certain substances in the urine that may put you at risk. These will depend on the type of stone and your urine composition. However, if the stones are causing pain, you may be given a pain reliever, such as acetaminophen or naproxen sodium.
The UT Urology department has four specialists who specialize in treating kidney stones. The doctors are trained in the development of kidney stones, including surgical methods. Their experience and expertise will give you the best treatment options. You can also choose between several treatment options based on your unique condition, size and location. If you suffer from small or simple kidney stones, waiting for a stone to pass is a reasonable option. And remember that a stone that is small and likely to pass by itself will be easier to remove if it is not too large.
A blood test may indicate that there is too much calcium in the blood, or too much uric acid. These results may lead to further investigations of other underlying medical conditions. Urine collection may reveal whether a stone-forming mineral or substance is present. Alternatively, the doctor may recommend that you collect two urines over two days. Abdominal X-rays are less common for small stones. These tests are important for determining the cause of kidney stones and a treatment plan.