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Kidney Stones

As your Bellingham Urologists, we specialize in performing the removal of Kidney Stones and has over 20 years of experience. Learn more by starting the conversation with our expert staff or by requesting an appointment.

The presence of stones in the kidney (nephrolithiasis) or anywhere within the urinary tract (urolithiasis) is a painful and potentially serious condition. In some patients, the stones recur, adding to the patient’s suffering and risk. Our Clinic offers a comprehensive program for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of kidney stones and stone disease. Many times, treatment can be done same-day, to alleviate both suffering and the risk of further illness.

Treatment Options

There are many choices for treating urinary stones, including:

  • Medical Expulsive Therapy, in which medication and hydration are used to help patients pass small stones (approximately 85% of stones can be handled by these means).
  • Medical Dissolution, in which stones composed of uric acid are dissolved, over time, by increasing the alkalinity of the patient’s urine. This is achieved by a combination of dietary modification and medication.
  • Shock Wave Lithotripsy (SWL), in which shock waves (generated outside the body) are used to fragment stones. SWL works well with smaller stones, too large to pass, in the kidney and ureter. Performed with a ‘twilight’ anesthesia, which relieves pain and anxiety but does not render the patient unconscious.
  • Ureteroscopy and Laser Lithotripsy, for stones in the ureter or kidney which are too large or too hard for SWL (see above). This technique, performed under a general anesthesia, calls for the placement of a fine needle, under ultra-sound/x-ray guidance, into the kidney. A balloon dilator is placed over the needle/safety wire in order to dilate a tract from the skin to the inside of the kidney. A sheath is placed over the balloon so that a safe passageway is established for the introduction of a video-scope that allows the surgeon to directly view the stones in the kidney. To break up the stones, ultrasound energy, laser energy, or a ‘jack- hammer’ type device is used. The small resultant fragments are then safely removed with graspers through the access sheath. An overnight hospital stay is required for this technique.
  • Robotic/Laparoscopic Stone Surgery, for very large stones which cannot be successfully treated by any of the above techniques. These stones would otherwise require a much more invasive open surgery, which is rarely used today.
  • Non-invasive Diagnostic Testing. For problems with frequent urination, problems emptying your bladder, a weak urine stream, or enlarged prostate, the Urocuff works like a blood pressure cuff, to measure the flow of urine. Don’t put off your visit or delay diagnosis and treatment.

Prevention of Kidney Stones (Stone Disease)

Our Clinic will use a complete metabolic work-up to identify the reasons for recurrent stone formation, including a review of the patient’s entire urologic history, family history, diet, level of activity, and fluid intake. Blood and urine tests accompany these histories, as well as a test of a patient’s reaction to stone inhibitor medications. A comprehensive plan, involving diet, fluid intake and, if necessary, medication, will be designed to prevent recurrent stone formation.