There are many different types of lasers used in medicine. For kidney stone work, a PowerSuite™ holmium laser in direct contact with the stone is commonly used. This minimally-invasive treatment usually requires general anesthesia (asleep, no pain), but you may go home the same day.
The doctor uses an endoscope (a tube introduced into the body, via the urinary tract) in order to get close to the stone. A small fiber is snaked up the endoscope so that the tip (that emits the laser energy) can come in contact with the stone, the intense light energy breaks the stone into increasingly smaller pieces, which can be extracted or flushed out. Because of type of laser energy no other tissue is affected.
Laser lithotripsy carries a slightly greater risk of complications than extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. However, lithotripsy using the holmium laser is characterized by a high success rate and low complication rate for all types of stones1. Discuss these risks with your doctor today and find out if VersaPulse laser lithotripsy is right for you.
Laser Lithotripsy is generally safe. However, as with any medical procedure, complications can occur. Those related to lithotripsy include:
How well a person does depends on the number, size, and location of the stones. Typically VersaPulse holmium laser lithotripsy completely removes stones in most patients who have the procedure. After the procedure, you may stay in the recovery room for up to about 2 hours. You may need to take antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines for a few days.
You will need to have someone drive you home from the hospital or clinic after your treatment. Your doctor will recommend resting for one to two days following your treatment before returning to normal activities.
Remember to drink plenty of water in the weeks after treatment (8-10 glasses a day), water will help pass any remaining pieces of stone and prevent them from coming back. You may have pain and nausea when/if any remaining pieces pass. You may experience the pain and nausea immediately after treatment and which may last for up to 4-8 weeks. Follow your doctors instructions for taking pain medication and drinking lots of water to help relieve these symptoms. It is normal to have a small amount of blood in your urine for a few days to weeks after the procedure.
You will be asked to visit your doctor for a follow-up appointment in the weeks following the lithotripsy. (For example, this might include a kidney X-ray or ultrasound to determine if kidney stones are still present.)
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