Ureteroscopy is where a long thin rigid telescope is introduced into the upper urinary tract via the bladder. The diameter of the instrument is less than 3 mm and allows visualisation of the lower half of the ureter. A small instrument port allows introduction of micro-baskets, Lithoclast (pneumatic device to break the stone) and laser fibres (0.3 mm in diameter) to manipulate and fragment stones.
As the procedure is performed under general anaesthesia, you should have nothing to eat or drink for 6 hours prior to treatment. Regular medications can be taken with a sip of water with the exception of blood thinning agents (eg. warfarin, aspirin, clopidogrel) which need to be stopped for 7-10 days.
You will meet your anaesthetist prior to surgery who will take a thorough medical history. This person will be responsible for your safety whilst you are under general anaesthesia. The procedure will usually take 60 minutes and involves putting a rigid telescope into the drainage tube (ureter) of the kidney and fragmenting the stone with laser. A temporary urinary stent may be left in place for a short period to ensure the kidney drains without risk of blockage.
This is generally considered a very safe operation.
Specific risks to surgery include:
infection, minor bleeding, and perforation of the ureter (1 in 200), very rarely avulsion of the ureter.
It is normal to feel the need to pass urine frequently and notice blood in the urine following surgery. This will settle over the ensuing days. You will sometimes have a temporary urinary stent following surgery which allows the swelling in the ureter to settle from where the stone was located.
You will be advised after surgery the necessary follow-up arrangements. A script for oral antibiotics will need to be taken for 3-5 days to prevent infection. You need to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day (2.5L/day) if no restriction of fluid is there. You will not be able to drive for at least 24 hours after surgery as you have had a general anaesthetic.
Pyeloscopy is where a thin fibre-optic telescope is introduced into the kidney from the bladder via the urethra (see diagram). The diameter of the instrument is less than 3mm and allows visualisation of the entire kidney drainage system due to the flexible nature of the scope. It contains a small instrument port which allows the introduction of laser fibres (0.3 mm diameter) to efficiently fragment stones, and micro-baskets (less than 1mm wide) to retrieve stone fragments. Kidney stones up to 2 cm in size can be treated using this approach.