General Article

Types of Treatment for Kidney Stones

If you’ve ever had severe pain radiating from your side or back, painful urination or pain that is focused in your groin or abdomen, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced a kidney stone. Kidney stones occur when your urine is allowed to concentrate, which often results in minerals and salts crystallizing. These hard deposits then cause pain and discomfort as they pass through your urinary tract. Most will pass on their own. Occasionally, though, the stone becomes too large or becomes lodged in your system. In these cases, they have to be removed medically. Here are common medical treatments for kidney stones.

Shock Waves

A procedure known as shock wave lithotripsy is used most commonly and is very effective for smaller kidney stones. It is completely non-invasive. On visiting your urologist, you will be given medicine for pain. Using either ultrasound or X-ray results, the doctor locates the stone. Finally, shock waves are aimed through your body at the area where the stone is located. These shock waves break up the stone, allowing it to pass harmlessly through your system.


This procedure is more invasive. A flexible scope is passed through your bladder and eventually into your kidney. Small stones are removed with a basket attached to the scope. For larger stones, laser fragmentation is used to break them up into smaller pieces. These pieces can then be removed with the basket.


The most invasive option for removing stones is surgery. In percutaneous nephrolithotomy, a small incision is made, and a tube is passed to the stone’s location. Then either sound waves or a laser is used to break up the stone. Finally, the stone pieces are removed through the tube.

Depending on the severity of the stone in your system, any of these options may be viable treatments. Discuss treatment options with your doctor before deciding.