Urology Kidney Stone

Kidney Stones Treatments

Your Partner in Kidney Stones Treatment

When discomfort from your kidney stone affects your daily life, you need treatment. Our urology experts at Emory Healthcare Urology Services offer a wide range of therapies. They can help relieve your symptoms and get you back to your normal activities.

Seeking Kidney Stones Treatment

Kidney stones can be painful, but some exit your body on their own. Small stones—typically smaller than 4 millimeters (about 0.16 inches)—are more likely to pass without treatment. Larger stones—over 6 millimeters (about 0.24 inches)—are less likely to pass on their own. Stones can get very large and damage your kidney or harbor infection. And they may merit treatment even if they aren't causing obstruction.

Observation Before Treatment

Our urologists often recommend observation for stones not causing symptoms before suggesting another treatment. Over-the-counter pain medication can help during the passage of stones, or in severe cases, you may get prescription medication. You should continue to drink lots of water (more than 2 liters per day) to help flush the stone out. Consider using a strainer when you urinate to catch the stone.

Observation is not an option if you have:

  • A urinary tract infection (UTI) or fevers
  • Severe pain that can’t be controlled with medication
  • Uncontrolled nausea and vomiting
  • Underlying kidney disease

Kidney Stones Treatments

Observation may not be right for you. Or your kidney stone may not move, even after a time of observation. If it doesn’t pass within 2-3 weeks, you will likely need additional care to remove the stone. In that case, our urologists provide a full range of treatments to get rid of your kidney stone. They will help you choose the best option based on the size and location of your stone.

  • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy: This therapy uses shock waves to break up kidney stones located in the kidney. The shockwaves break the stone into smaller pieces that make it easier for you to pass them. This is generally performed as an outpatient procedure.
  • Ureteroscopy: Our urologists insert a flexible telescope called a ureteroscope through your bladder and up into the kidney without making any incisions. They can grab and remove your kidney stone. Or they may use a laser to break it up. Most cases are performed as an outpatient procedure.
  • Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy: During this procedure, our urologists make a one-inch cut (incision) in your back and create a small tunnel to reach your kidney stone. To remove the stone, they pass a scope through the tunnel and use instruments to break up the stone, including lasers, ultrasonic fragmenters, or pneumatic devices (similar to a jackhammer).
  • Robotic Stone Surgery: Our urologists may recommend this procedure if your stone is large or in an unusual spot. This surgery involves using robotic instruments through small incisions in your abdomen to remove the stone. This is usually reserved for when minimally invasive scope procedures are unsuccessful or inadequate. Emory urologists are prepared to offer this type of treatment when needed to remove the kidney stone.

After removing a stone, a temporary plastic tube (called a stent) may be placed to allow your kidney to drain. This will be removed after the swelling has decreased and any small fragments have passed. The timing of removal will be determined by your doctor based on the type of surgery you had, your anatomy, and your stone characteristics. .

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