Kidney stones - lithotripsy - discharge
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy - discharge; Shock wave lithotripsy - discharge; Laser lithotripsy - discharge; Percutaneous lithotripsy - discharge; Endoscopic lithotripsy - discharge; ESWL - discharge; Renal calculi - lithotripsy; Nephrolithiasis - lithotripsy; Renal colic - lithotripsy
A kidney stone is a small solid mass made up of tiny crystals. You had a medical procedure called lithotripsy to break up the kidney stones. This article gives you advice on what to expect and how to take care of yourself after the procedure.
If you ever have severe pain in your belly or one side of your back that comes and goes suddenly, you may be passing a kidney stone. Let's talk about the painful condition of kidney stones. A kidney stone is a mass of tiny crystals in your kidney or urinary tract. Stones are quite common, and tend to run in families. They can form in weeks or months when your urine contains too much of certain substances. There are several kinds of kidney stones. Calcium stones are by far the most common kind. They often form in men between the ages of 20 to 30. Calcium can combine with other substances found in your food, like oxalate, phosphate, or carbonate, to form stones. Cystine stones can form in people who have cystinuria, a condition passed down through families in which stones are made from an amino acid called cystine. Struvite stones are found mostly in women who have urinary tract infections. These stones can grow very large and can block the kidney, ureter, or bladder. Uric acid stones are more common in men than in women. They can occur in people who have a history of gout or are going through chemotherapy. So, how do you know if you have kidney stones? Well, you may not have symptoms until the stone move down the ureter tubes through which urine empties into your bladder. When this happens, the stones can block the flow of urine out of your kidneys. The main symptom is severe sharp pain that starts suddenly, usually in your belly or one side of your back, and it may go away just as quickly. Other symptoms can include abnormal urine color, blood in your urine, fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting. So, what do you do about kidney stones? Well, your health care provider will perform a physical exam. You may need blood tests, kidney function tests, and tests that look for crystals in your urine. Several imaging tests, like a CT scan, can see stones or a blockage in your urinary tract. Treatment will depend on the type of stone you have, and how bad your symptoms are. Small kidney stones that are less than 5 mm in diameter will usually pass on their own. You should drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water per day to produce a large enough amount of urine to help bring the stone out. Pain can be pretty bad when you pass a kidney stone, so your doctor may prescribe pain medicines to help as well as medications that will help the stone pass. Other medicines can decrease stone formation or help break down and remove the material that is causing you to make stones. You may need surgery if the stone is too large to pass, the stone is growing, or the stone is blocking your urine flow. Kidney stones are painful, but you can usually pass them without causing permanent harm. However, kidney stones often come back, so you and your doctor will need to work on finding the cause of your stone. Lastly, delaying treatment can lead to serious complications, so if you think that you have kidney stones see your doctor right away.
When You're in the Hospital
You had lithotripsy, a medical procedure that uses high frequency sound (shock) waves or a laser to break up stones in your kidney, bladder, or ureter (the tube that carries urine from your kidneys to your bladder). The sound waves or laser beam breaks the stones into tiny pieces.
What to Expect at Home
It is normal to have a small amount of blood in your urine for a few days to a few weeks after this procedure.
You may have pain and nausea when the stone pieces pass. This can happen soon after treatment and may last for 4 to 8 weeks.
You may have some bruising on your back or side where the stone was treated if sound waves were used. You may also have some pain over the treatment area.
Have someone drive you home from the hospital. Rest when you get home. Most people can go back to their regular daily activities 1 or 2 days after this procedure.
Drink a lot of water in the weeks after treatment. This helps pass any pieces of stone that still remain. Your health care provider may give you a medicine called an alpha blocker to make it easier to pass the pieces of stone.
Learn how to prevent your kidney stones from coming back.
Take the pain medicine your provider has told you to take and drink a lot of water if you have pain. You may need to take antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines for a few days.
You will probably be asked to strain your urine at home to look for stones. Your provider will tell you how to do this. Any stones you find can be sent to a medical lab to be examined.
You will need to see your provider for a follow-up appointment in the weeks after your lithotripsy.
You may have a nephrostomy drainage tube or an indwelling stent. You will be taught how to take care of it.
When to Call the Doctor
Contact your provider if you have:
- Severe pain in your back or side that will not go away
- Heavy bleeding or blood clots in your urine (a small to moderate amount of blood is normal)
- Fast heartbeat
- Fever and chills
- Urine that smells bad
- A burning feeling when you urinate
- Very little urine production
Bushinsky DA. Nephrolithiasis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 117.
Matlaga BR, Krambeck AE. Surgical management for upper urinary tract calculi. In: Partin AW, Dmochowski RR, Kavoussi LR, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh-Wein Urology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 94.
Last reviewed on: 7/4/2022
Reviewed by: Kelly L. Stratton, MD, FACS, Associate Professor, Department of Urology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.