Kidney & Ureteral Stones

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Kidney and Ureteral Stones are rock-like masses within the urinary tract formed by the crystallization of various elements excreted in the urine.

Kidney stones form within the collecting duct of the kidneys, where urine is first formed. They can cause pain when the stones block the flow of urine. When kidney stones travel to the ureters (tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder) they become ureteral stones. Ureteral stones are more likely to cause pain and discomfort than kidney stones. TUCC is Denver and Colorado’s expert in treating kidney and ureteral stones.

Cases of kidney and ureteral stones rise during summer months.

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Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Signs and symptoms of kidney stones include pain in the upper back, upper abdomen or high on the side of the abdomen, visible blood in the urine or microscopic (non-visible) blood in the urine. Nausea and vomiting can also accompany stone pain. High fever may be a sign of an associated infection and should be treated as a serious condition.

The best prevention against kidney stones and ureteral stones involves enough fluid consumption to produce two liters, or 1/2 gallon, of urine a day. Medication can also be used to help prevent stones from forming.

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Treatments

Usually kidney stones are very painful and people seek treatment quickly. Kidney and ureteral stones are treated with a variety of procedures. Patients with small stones who have few symptoms may be observed to see if they can pass the stones on their own. If that is too painful or not possible, there are a variety of treatments available at The Urology Center of Colorado.

Ureteroscopy with Laser Lithotripsy – In this outpatient surgical procedure, surgeons reach the stone with various scopes and extract it using a special type of basket or break it with a laser beam. The tiny pieces of the stone that remain in the ureters or kidney are then spontaneously passed. This form of treatment is best for stones located in the lower part of the ureter.

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) – In this outpatient surgical procedure, shock waves are transmitted through the body to break up kidney stones and allow the remaining fragments to drain through the urinary system on their own. This treatment is best for stones located in the kidneys or upper ureters.

Both ureteroscopy with laser lithotripsy or extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) are performed in the Urology Surgery Center of Colorado (USCC) located at TUCC in Denver. Kidney stone treatment is provided by our surgeons, offering the most technologically advanced treatment in our convenient, comfortable ambulatory surgery center.

Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy – Patients requiring this procedure are admitted to the hospital. It begins with the placement of a small tube or wire through the back and into the kidney. The tube is enlarged in the operating room and the stones or stone are broken up by an ultrasound or laser surgery. Following the procedure, the tube is removed within two days and the patient is sent home with a ureteral stent in place. This form of treatment is usually best for kidney stones larger than 2 cm in size.

Medical Therapy – Because 10 percent of kidney stones are composed of uric acid, they can be dissolved by decreasing the acidity of urine with appropriate medications.

Ureteral Stents – In this procedure, tubes are placed in the ureters from the kidney to the bladder, allowing urine to drain and relieve the obstruction. The stents are often inserted following kidney stone surgery to prevent potential swelling following a ureteroscopy or blockage from kidney stone fragments following ESWL. Once swelling has decreased and stone fragments have been removed, the stents are removed in an office procedure.

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Resources & Events

The Urology Center of Colorado Partners With UroGPO For SpaceOAR HydroGel Training

The Urology Center of Colorado (TUCC) hosted surgical training for Urologists and Radiation Oncologists from California, Oregon and Texas for SpaceOAR Hydrogel. The training was offered by UroGPO, Augmenix and The Urology Center of Colorado. The Urologists at TUCC have been utilizing SpaceOAR Hydrogel at the center for two years and participated in clinical research

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