Breaking down kidney stones with laser

Written by: Mr Keng Jin Ng
Published:
Edited by: Lisa Heffernan

Kidney stones are quite common. One in every 20 people develop them at some point in their life. They are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside the kidneys. Often they are small enough to pass on their own, however sometimes intervention is necessary if they are too large, the pain is too great to wait for the stone to pass, the stone is affecting kidney function or the stone is causing too much pain.

 

Anyone can develop a kidney stone, but those with certain conditions, such as; diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, hypercalciuria (high calcium in the urine) are at an increased risk. Urologist Mr Keng Jin Ng tells us more about kidney stones and how laser treatment should be to go to treatment in the removal of kidney stones.

How do I know that I have kidney stones?

Patients often present with symptoms, such as the following:

  • Pain during urination
  • Persistent need to urinate
  • You have cloudy and foul-smelling urine
  • Severe pain in the side and back
  • Shooting pain down the groin and legs
  • Fever if an infection is present

On occasions, kidney stones may stay within the kidney and do not cause any blockage or pain.

How are kidney stones detected?

Kidney stones can be detected with an ultrasound scan, traditional intravenous pyelography (IVP) or a modern CT scan.

How are kidney stones treated?

In the past, a shockwave machine was used extensively. This was placed over the kidney to break up the kidney stones into small pieces. However, the smaller pieces of stones often get trapped at the bottom of the kidney and fail to get drained out of the body effectively.

Laser treatment for kidney stones

Laser treatment is now very effective in clearing kidney stones. A miniature camera, in the form of a tiny black tube (endoscope), can be passed up through the ureter, to the kidney by following the passage of the urinary tract. In this way, there is no cutting involved in the operation. The procedure is carried out under general anaesthesia.

 

The endoscope allows the surgeon to see where to direct the laser to blast the kidney stones. The laser can be set to blast the stones into a tiny powder or into chunky fragments. Stones that are broken down into powder can be drained naturally, passing through the urine. The stones broken into chunky fragments can be removed by a special miniature grasping basket.

 

With the latest laser equipment, a skilled surgeon can remove all the kidney stones in over 90% of cases in just one session and render the patient stone-free.

Aftercare

Once the kidney stone has been removed, the health care provider may place a temporary stent in the ureter so that urine can pass from the kidney and into the bladder easily. Usually, patients can resume normal activities in two to three days. If a stent was placed in the ureter, it can be removed after about four to ten days.

If you are experiencing any symptoms mentioned above, accompanied by high temperature, shivers and nausea, make an appointment with a specialist who will lead you through treatment successfully.

By Mr Keng Jin Ng
Urology

Mr Keng Jin Ng is a leading consultant urological surgeon in London who specialises in female urology and minimally invasive surgery. He received his training at the Institute of Urology, London as a clinic research fellow where he focused his research on bladder dysfunction and urodynamics.

Mr Ng is an invited member of specialist interest group International Urogynaecological Association on the subject of chronic pelvic pain and interstitial cystitis. He regularly holds surgical master classes for consultant colleagues and offers certificates of attendance.

Mr Ng is also a national and international trainer for Bulkamid bladder neck injection for urinary stress incontinence. He is a regular speaker at The London Bladder Forum to an audience of consultant colleagues speaking on topics such as cystitis, urinary incontinence and the treatment of bladder pain syndrome. 

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