Ureteroscopy is a procedure to look inside the ureter (the tube between the bladder and the kidney) and the kidney, by passing a small telescope through the urethra.
It is commonly used for the treatment of kidney stones.
At Brisbane Urology Clinic, all our urologists are highly experienced in ureteroscopy for the management of kidney stones.
WHY IS URETEROSCOPY REQUIRED?
Ureteroscopy is performed to break up and remove stones from the ureter and the kidney.
WHAT DOES URETEROSCOPY INVOLVE?
Ureteroscopy is performed under general anaesthetic (completely asleep).
We pass a small telescope through the urethra and bladder, into the ureter.
If we find a kidney stone, the stone can be broken up into small fragments with a laser (pictured). We can remove any remaining fragments by grabbing them with a basket and retrieving them (pictured above).
A ureteric stent may be placed at the end of the procedure. This is a long, thin hollow plastic tube which runs from the kidney, through the ureter, into the bladder. It allows urine to drain from the kidney to the bladder after the procedure.
A catheter (tube through the urethra into the bladder to drain urine) may be placed at the end of the procedure.
WHAT IS THE RECOVERY AFTER URETEROSCOPY?
Sometimes you will stay in the hospital for one night after the procedure. Sometimes the procedure is performed as a day surgery – you can go home on the same day as long as you are accompanied by a responsible adult.
If you have a catheter it will be removed on the first day after the procedure.
If you have a ureteric stent, it needs to be removed a few days to weeks after the procedure. Sometimes the stent is attached to a fine string coming out of the urethra – the stent is removed by pulling on the string. Alternatively, the stent is removed with a flexible cystoscopy.
You can usually drive 24 to 48 hours after the procedure.
You can usually return to work two to three days after the procedure.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF URETEROSCOPY?
Common (1/2 – 1/10)
- Symptoms from having a ureteric stent in place including mild pain in the side, bleeding in the urine, urinary frequency and burning when passing urine.
Occasional (1/10 – 1/50)
- Urine infection requiring antibiotics or further treatment. Sometimes infection can spread to the kidneys, testes, or blood stream (sepsis).
- Sometimes small fragments of stone may remain after the operation.
- Sometimes it is not possible to remove the stone in one operation and a second operation is necessary.
- Inability to pass urine after the operation, requiring placement of a urethral catheter.
- Pain in the side similar to kidney stone pain after the procedure.
- Damage to the urethra resulting in scaring (urethral stricture).
Rare (1/50 – 1/250)
- Significant bleeding in the urine, requiring another procedure/operation to correct.
Very rare (<1/250)
- Damage to the ureter (tube from the kidney to the bladder) resulting in scaring (ureteric stricture) and blockage of the kidney.
- Very, very rarely, major damage to the ureter or kidney requiring another operation/procedure to correct, or removal of the kidney.
- Creating a hole in the bladder, requiring another procedure/operation to correct.
The risks of anaesthesia have not been listed here.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES TO URETEROSCOPY?
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT URETEROSCOPY?
- Smith, J. A., Howards, S. S., Preminger, G. M., & Hinman, F. (2012). Hinman’s Atlas of urologic surgery. Philadelphia: Elsevier/Saunders.
This is general information only. Please consult your doctor for more information and treatment options.