Laser lithotripsy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses laser beams or light pulses to break down kidney stones or stones in the ureter. The surgeon uses a ureteroscope, which is a flexible fiber-optic scope with a camera and light during this procedure. He/she inserts it into the urinary tract to help see the stones inside the body.
Before the procedure is carried out, you will be given instructions on what to do in order to make the process more seamless. These includes a fasting period, especially if the procedure requires general anesthesia. Yout will need to fast for six hours prior to the procedure, and only water is allowed two hours prior to the procedure. You might also need to undergo a series of tests including:
Additionally, the patient also needs to inform the surgeon about their medical history. If he/she is taking any form of medication or supplements, as well as if they may have any allergies.
During the procedure
During the procedure you will be put under general anesthesia and hence will be sleeping throughout the operation.
The surgeon inserts a ureteroscope into the urinary tract tubes to help him/her see the location of the stones. The ureteroscope enters the urinary tract through the urethra and into the ureter where the stones are located.
An optical fiber with light pulses is passed through the ureteroscope to the stones. It thus pulverizes them by breaking them into fine fragments. Most of these fragments are removed during the procedure. The remaining fragments are usually passed out through urine a few days or weeks after the procedure.
If necessary, a stent may be placed in the ureter after surgery to improve the flow of urine, and to help eliminate the stone fragments through urination.
A follow-up check after the procedure might be necessary to ensure that the kidney stones are resolved. Normally the procedure can take up to one hour to complete.
After the procedure
Just like any other surgical procedure, laser lithotripsy may present some complications, although rare. These include: