Research Article

Treatment of urinary tract stones.

BMJ 1993; 307 doi: (Published 27 November 1993) Cite this as: BMJ 1993;307:1414
  1. J E Wickham
  1. Division of Minimally Invasive Surgery, Combined Medical School, Guy's Hospital, London.


    Replacement of open surgery with minimally invasive techniques for treating stones in the renal tract has greatly reduced patients' morbidity and mortality and the period of hospitalisation and convalescence. Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy does not require anaesthesia and requires little analgesia so that treatment can be given on an outpatient basis, and there is no wound to heal. Only a small puncture site is needed for percutaneous endoscopic lithotomy, and with the advent of prophylactic antibiotics there are few complications. Of renal stones, about 85% can now be successfully treated by extracorporeal lithotripsy alone, and almost all of the stones too large or hard for lithotripsy can be treated endoscopically, with ultrasonic or electrohydraulic probes being used to fragment the stone. Stones in the upper and lower thirds of the ureter can be treated by extracorporeal lithotripsy, but stones in the middle third, which cannot normally be visualised to allow focusing of the shockwaves, usually require ureteroscopy. Nearly all bladder stones can be treated by transurethral endoscopy with an electrohydraulic probe. Only the largest renal tract stones still require open surgery.