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Kidney problems can be extremely serious, and patients should seek a thorough diagnosis as soon as they begin to experience problems. It is the job of the kidneys to filter waste products from the body, and if they cannot perform this operation, the risk of kidney infection and kidney failure becomes significant. Kidney stones are a common cause of kidney outlet obstruction and can effectively be treated in a number of ways.

Lithotripsy and stone retrieval (retrograde)

A computed tomography (CT) scan will probably form the basis of kidney stone diagnosis. If the patient is suffering from relatively small kidney stones, but is unsuccessful at passing kidney stones at home, Dr. Hayden might elect to pursue retrograde intrarenal surgery (RIRS). The goal of this procedure, which is done under general anaesthetic, is the removal of kidney stones, and it involves a ureteroscope (a long, thin tube with a camera attached to it) being inserted in the urethra (the urinary opening), and then passed through into the urine-collecting area of the kidney. At this point, Dr. Hayden can proceed with kidney stone lithotripsy (the fragmentation of stones), either using a laser or perhaps an ultrasound lithotripter. RIRS is extremely effective for the removal of kidney stones that measure up to 20mm and even larger stones can be treated effectively. The recovery time from RIRS is not long, but be advised that a urinary catheter might be fitted to relieve pain and discomfort immediately following the kidney stone removal procedure. Stones larger than 20mm may need more than one procedure to be cleared from the kidney.

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy

Kidney stone surgery may be required in cases where kidney stones are large (greater than 20mm). Known as percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL), this kidney stone surgery is extremely effective in the removal of kidney stones, and is performed under general anaesthetic. During the kidney stone treatment procedure, a small incision is made in the patient’s back and a tunnel is made through to the renal collecting system. Dr. Hayden will then pass a telescopic instrument called a nephroscope via this incision, and use it to either extract the stones or to perform a lithotripsy with a laser, electrohydraulic or ultrasound probe on the larger kidney stones to make them easier to remove. The recovery time from a percutaneous nephrolithotomy can be slow (at least two weeks before patients can return to work), and you will be kept in hospital for 2-3 days immediately after the kidney stone removal procedure so that your progress can be properly monitored.

What can cause kidney problems?

These are the most common causes of kidney problems:

  • Using pain medication (anti-inflammatories) for a long period
  • High blood pressure and diabetes mellitus especially if poorly controlled
  • Obstruction of the urinary tract and kidney stones
  • Chemotherapy
When is dialysis indicated?

Dialysis is normally indicated in cases of severe kidney damage. This is used to help with end-stage kidney failure, which involves the loss of 85-90% of kidney function.

How can I prevent the occurrence of kidney stones?

You can prevent the occurrence of kidney stones by doing the following:

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Avoiding foods that are high in sodium
  • Reduce the amount of animal protein