What is Ureteroscopy?
Ureteroscopy is a procedure that involves the use of a thin, long tube called a ureteroscope, to examine, diagnose and treat urinary tract problems. The ureteroscope is most commonly used for the diagnosis and treatment of kidney stones but is also indicated for the treatment of various conditions such as frequent urinary tract infections, urinary blockage, hematuria (blood in the urine), unusual cell growth or tumour in the ureters (urine tubes). Ureteroscopes may be flexible, or rigid and firm.
How is the Procedure of Ureteroscopy performed?
Ureteroscopy is an outpatient procedure, performed under spinal or general anesthesia. Your doctor inserts the tip of the ureteroscope through the urethral opening (opening of the urinary bladder to the outside) and advances it up the urinary bladder and into the ureter (kidney tubes that empty urine into the bladder). No incisions are made. A sterile liquid is passed through the ureteroscope to fill and stretch the bladder. This helps your doctor to view the bladder wall, locate the stone and diagnose any abnormalities.
To remove the stone, your doctor may insert a thin wire with a tiny basket attached to its end through the ureteroscope. The basket grabs and removes the kidney stone. Your doctor may sometimes break a large stone with the help of laser emitted through a flexible fibre passed through the ureteroscope.
The complete procedure takes about 15 to 30 minutes. After the procedure, you may feel a mild burning sensation during urination. You will be advised to drink plenty of water to relieve post-operative discomfort. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for a few days to prevent infection.
What risks or complications are associated with Ureteroscopy?
Like most therapeutic procedures, ureteroscopy may be associated with certain risks such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Injury in the ureter
- Urinary tract infection