Surgery - The Last Resort for Treatment
While this website discusses a number of treatments for kidney stones that
work primarily on most cases, there are times when a more invasive treatment
may be required. This page discusses the parameters for determining if surgery is needed as well as what is involved in having the surgery -
the procedure, the complications and the recovery period.
Why its needed?
Considered the last resort, it is rarely needed as a treatment to remove
kidney stones. However, if other types of treatments do not work, it may be
time to consider it. Surgery may be the right option for
you if the stone:
- Results from an infection (also known as staghorn kidney stones).
- Grows too large to pass or is located where another treatment cannot
- Blocks the flow of urine.
- Does not pass after a reasonable amount of time and is causing
- Results in recurring urinary tract infections.
- Damages kidney tissue that can result in bleeding.
- Is present in an obese person.
As a treatment surgery results in a very high success rate of
complete stone removal. However, it is also important to note that surgery is performed on less than 2% of individuals who have this ailment at
Kidney stone surgery goes by the complicated medical term of nephrolithotomy.
In laymanís terms, it is referred to as open surgery because it involves an
incision into the body in order to access and remove the stone properly.
X-rays are used to identify the specific areas where the stone or stones are so
that the surgeon can pinpoint the best location to open the patient up. An
incision is first made in the abdomen or flank. Then the kidney is carefully
cut, paying special attention so that the arteries of the kidneys are
While the surgical procedure is taking place, ice is used to keep the kidneys
cooled so that they do not become irritated by the activity. Once the surgeon
finds the stone, it is removed and any blockage is corrected so that the
kidneys can begin to function properly again. Before the patient is closed up,
a catheter is inserted into the kidney so that urine can still drain out of the
body while the kidney heals from the invasive procedure.
The Road to Recovery
Nephrolithotomy is considered very painful. To recover from such a
delicate medical procedure requires anywhere from six to nine days in the hospital
followed by four to six weeks of rest from normal daily activity. Warning signs
to look for during recovery include:
- Sharp, shooting pain.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Swelling or redness around the incision area which could signal
If any of these symptoms appear during recovery, you should immediately
contact your doctor.
Take Care: The Low-down on Possible Risks
Because the procedure is so invasive and delicate, there are a number of
possible complications that can arise from the procedure. Risk signs include:
- Severe bleeding.
- Kidney damage.
During a surgery of this nature, anesthesia is used which can lead to other
side effects which may include malfunctions in the lung, heart, liver or
nervous system as well as brain damage and even death. It is important to
review your family history to see if anyone has suffered adverse effects from
anesthesia and also discuss it with your physician.
Another Kind: Removal of the Parathyroid Gland
In rare cases, kidney stones develop due to an imbalance in hormone production.
To prevent stones from recurring once they are treated, a different kind of
solution may be required. This involves removing the parathyroid
gland, which is discussed more in another article on this website.
Up until twenty years ago, surgery was the only option to remove kidney stones.
Patients had to deal with a painful procedure that required extensive recovery
time. Today, as the medical industry has made new in-roads into understanding
kidney stones and how they work, a number of treatment options have become
available making it rarely necessary.
There are a host of less invasive medical
procedures, such as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), laser
lithotripsy, and ureteroscopy. Apart from these
effective natural alternatives are gaining
tremedous popularity. These treatments are less painful, result in
fewer complications, and require minimal recovery time.
Read about other available treatments which are taking the place of
Best Kidney Stone Treatment
No.1 Remedy Renavive
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Information Pages on Stones of the Kidneys: