Kidney stones, also called renal calculi, nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis, are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys.
Passing kidney stones can be painful, but the stones usually cause no permanent damage if they're recognized in a timely fashion. Depending on your situation, you may need nothing more than to take pain medication and drink lots of water to pass a kidney stone. In other instances, surgery may be needed.
Using a scope to remove stones, commonly called ureteroscopy
To remove a smaller stone in your ureter or kidney, your doctor may pass a thin lighted tube called a ureteroscope through your urethra and bladder to your ureter. This tube is equipped with a camera.
Once the stone is located, special tools can place the stone in a basket. Or the stone can be broken into pieces using a laser. These pieces pass in your urine. Then your doctor may place a small tube, or stent, in the ureter to relieve swelling and promote healing. You may need general or local anesthesia during this procedure.
Surgery to remove large stones in the kidney
A procedure called percutaneous nephrolithotomy involves surgically removing a kidney stone using small telescopes and instruments inserted through a small incision in your back. You will receive general anesthesia during the surgery and be in the hospital overnight while you recover.