How We Can Help
Kidney Stones Treatment Information
Kidney stone removal options include:
- Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL). This treatment involves using sound waves from outside the body to break up kidney stones. It is a nonsurgical procedure that breaks kidney stones into tiny pieces by sending shock waves (high-energy sound waves) through your body. The shock waves do not harm the kidneys, but they break the kidney stones into tiny pieces. These pieces can then be passed out of your body with your urine, or they can be removed through a tube placed at the outlet of the kidney where urine flows into the ureter (tube that leads from the kidney to the bladder). You typically go home soon after the procedure is completed.
- Ureteroscopy. A ureteroscope allows a tiny camera and instruments to be inserted through the urethra to the place where a kidney stone is lodged in the kidney or ureter. We can see on a monitor live images of the ureter and the stone, allowing us to break up the stone safely with a laser. The pieces of the stone pass out into the bladder and are then eliminated through urination. This nonsurgical technique allows you to leave the hospital usually on the same day and return to normal activities in a few days to a week.
- Percutaneous kidney stone removal. Large stones may need to be removed with a minimally invasive surgical procedure. In this procedure, we make a small incision in your back and insert a tube that allows us to use small tools inside the body. We remove the stone through the tube or break it up and allow it to pass out of your body in urine. To help the broken stone material pass through the ureter, we can place a stent (a tube that holds the ureter open) in it to make it wider. We remove the stent in a few days after we are sure all the stone fragments have passed out of the body.
Preventing kidney stones requires an individualized plan based on the type of stones you have and the reason for the condition. Services and options related to kidney stone prevention include:
- Assessment. To help you reduce the chance of future kidney stones, we must first find the reason you are prone to developing them. We perform a thorough medical, nutritional and lifestyle evaluation to find out why you have kidney stones. Our assessment includes analysis of your kidney stones, blood and urine.
- Medicine. We prescribe a variety of medicines based on the cause and type of your kidney stones. This approach works only when we know the reason for the problem. For example, if your stones are caused by hypercalciuria, we may give you diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide. For cystine stones, we may prescribe mercaptopropionyl glycine to decrease cystine in the urine.
- Dietary changes. We recommend a specific diet depending on the type of kidney stones you have. For example, for calcium oxalate stones, you need to cut back on sodium, animal protein and foods high in oxalate, such as rhubarb and nuts. For uric acid stones, you need to reduce animal protein. Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, also helps to prevent most types of kidney stones. The recommendation is often two to three liters of fluid per day, or even more for cystine stones.
Kidney Stones Locations & Physicians
Use the search options below to find treatments available in your area.
Find a Specialist
Enter a Zip Code to find a specialist at IU Health.
Kidney Stones Support Services
Understanding kidney stones is important to controlling them. Learn more from these resources:
A Sampling of Kidney Stones Support Services
International Kidney Stone Institute
This charitable organization, affiliated with Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital and Indiana University School of Medicine, supports research and education for the detection, management and prevention of kidney stone disease.
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
This site, a service of the U.S. federal government, explains the symptoms, causes, prevention and treatment of kidney stones.
National Kidney Foundation
This nonprofit group outlines many aspects of kidney stones, including ways to prevent and treat them.
Urology Care Foundation
This site has extensive information about kidney stones and links to similarly thorough pages about many other urologic conditions.