How can Kidney Stones be Treated?
The phase of acute, intermittent pain usually lasts hours to 1 to 2 days. A stone, however, may take days or even weeks to pass. Sometimes weekly x-rays are necessary to track the progress of the stone down the urinary tract. If the stone has not passed after a month or so, it may need to be surgically removed.
Oral fluids in abundance:
The patient may be treated at home by drinking lots of liquids and taking pain medication. The doctor might advise the patient to strain all urine until the stone is passed. This allows the stone to be identified with laboratory tests.
Intravenous fluid therapy:
If the patient has vomiting and is unable to drink liquids orally, he/she might need hospitalization so that fluids can be administered intravenously. A stay in the hospital may also be necessary if there are signs of urinary infection, a kidney abnormality, or a large stone requiring surgery.
Alpha-adrenergic blockers and calcium channel blockers have found to be effective in expelling kidney stones from the body.
Extra-corporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL):
A stone located in the kidney that is less than 2cms in size is usually treatable as an out-patient procedure using a special machine that produces high intensity sound waves called shock-waves. This is a minimal interventional procedure. The stones are broken into fine sand like particles so that they can pass out from the urine. Almost 90% of all kidney stones can be treated by this method.
Cystoscopy or ureteroscopy:
A stone in the lower urinary tract requires surgery. It is removed, under anesthesia, through a cystoscope. This instrument is a slim, lighted, flexible, fiber-optic telescope, which is passed through the urethral opening into the urinary tract. Tiny tools can be passed through the cystoscope and used to trap and remove the stone.
This is reserved for large bulky stones in or near the kidneys. Less than 3-4% of the patients require this form of major interventional surgery.
A stone that is too high or too large may require open abdominal surgery for removal if other methods do not work.