Ureteroscopy is a basic invasive process of evaluating the ureter (the tube transporting urine from the kidney down to the bladder) and is a procedure normally done for kidney stones that have come part of the way down this tube, but not quite to the bladder.
There are other reasons to complete the process such as small tumors in the upper urinary system or narrowing of this tube.
The procedure is done under either general or spinal anesthesia and as such the usual pre-anesthesia instructions apply, such as nothing to eat or drink for 8 hours prior to procedure and holding blood thinning medications like aspirin (for 7 days prior to procedure if possible) and coumadin (for 4 days prior to procedure, if possible).
Most patients can go home the same day, but this has to be with someone who can drive the patient home. Occasionally patients will have to stay overnight.
- Depending on the reason for doing the procedure, the operating time can be 30 to 90 minutes. A "routine" kidney stone case would be expected to be 30 to 45 minutes.
- At times, a stent (small pliable tube) is placed in the ureter which can act as a conduit through which the urine can easily pass and bypass any post-procedure obstruction. This tube is left inherited for 3 days to 2 weeks after per physician discretion. The tube is entirely contained inside the body and patients can urinate on their own. (This is different from an externally draining urinary catheter that’s connected to a bag drainage system.)
- Patient will be shifted in the post-operative recovery room for about an hour following the case and then either to the step-down area where the family can be with the patient or to an inpatient bed as found necessary according to the doctor.
- Generally, as most of these patients are stone patients, the discomfort is considerably less. Basically, the presence of an inherited stent can be an irritation but moreover preferred to the pain of a kidney stone.
Risks and Side Effect
As with any kind of surgery, there are some risks involved with ureteroscopy including bleeding and urinary tract infection, so it is imperative that all patients have a urine test a week before elective ureteroscopy. There is also the risk of developing some mild abdominal pain and the inability to urinate due to swelling of surrounding tissue.
Common side effects from the procedure include a mild burning sensation when urinating and small amounts of blood in the urine. Patients may also feel the need to urinate more often than usual.