If your pain is too great, the kidney stone is blocking the urinary system, or you also have an infection, your doctor will probably suggest medical treatment. Your options are:
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). ESWL uses shock waves that pass easily through the body but are strong enough to break up a kidney stone. This is the most commonly used medical procedure for treating kidney stones. See a picture of ESWL.
Ureteroscopy. The surgeon passes a very thin telescope tube (ureteroscope) up the urinary tract to the stone's location, and then he or she uses instruments to remove the stone or break it up for easier removal. Occasionally, you may need a small, hollow tube (ureteral stent) placed in the ureter to keep it open for a short time and drain urine and any stone pieces. This procedure is often used for stones that have moved from the kidney to the ureter. See a picture of ureteroscopy.
The size of the stone, its location in the urinary tract, your overall health, and other factors are all considered in deciding which method to use when breaking up or removing a kidney stone.
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