"If surgery is required to remove a kidney stone, there are three main approaches from least invasive to most invasive. They're as follows. The first is something called shockwave lithotripsy. In shockwave lithotripsy, under a mild anesthetic, shockwaves are sent from the outside to the kidney stone on the inside of your body, fragmenting or breaking the kidney stone into dust in small pieces. In a minimally invasive fashion, slightly more invasive, but very effective, is a procedure called ureteroscopy with laser lithotripsy. In this procedure, under general anesthesia or full anesthetic, a small camera is passed through the urethra opening, without cutting you open, into the bladder, and then fed backwards up the ureter tubes into the kidney. The stone is visualized directly with the tip of the tiny camera. And a laser is used to break the stone into dust. The third and most invasive procedure is called percutaneous nephrolithotomy, or abbreviated PCNL.
This is reserved for large stones in the kidney that are too big to be treated by the other two procedures I mentioned. In this case, a small incision, the size of about a dime or a nickel is made in your back. The kidney is entered directly through the skin of the back and a larger camera can be put into the urine chamber of the kidney, breaking the stone into larger fragments that can be removed directly out of the tract in the back. Which one of these procedures is appropriate for a specific patient's kidney stone depends on many factors. The patient's medical condition, the size of the patient, the size of the stone, how hard the stone is and patient's preferences."
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