Kidney Stones

A doctor using a machine on a patient lying on a bed.

Shock Wave Lithotripsy

Shock Wave Lithotripsy (SWL) is a treatment used to break down kidney stones in the kidneys without having to enter any surgical procedures. The shock waves are sent through your body until they reach the kidney stones which cause the kidney stones to break into smaller pieces allowing them to easily pass. SWL is not always successful and will not work if the stones are too large or too hard and if the patient is overweight due to the fact the shock waves won’t be able to reach the stones.


A ureteroscopy is a procedure in which a scope is inserted up into the ureter and the doctor finds the kidney stone that is causing problems. The doctor then inserts a rod and is able to help remove the kidney stone. A ureteroscopy is a relatively short outpatient procedure.

A diagram of two kidneys, one with kidney stones
A diagram explaining how a percutaneous nephrolithotomy is performed

Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL)

Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL) is a surgical procedure performed to remove larger kidney stones that cannot be treated through other methods. Through a small incision the doctor locates the large stones and is able to break them up into smaller fragments so that they may pass easily.



Your ureter is the tube that drains urine from your kidney into your bladder. If this gets blocked, by a kidney stone or some other reason, you may have pain in your back and develop swelling in your kidney, called Hydronephrosis.

What is a stent?

A ureteral stent is a plastic tube that is inserted into your Ureter. One end of the tube sits in the bladder and the other is in the kidney.

A stent is used to allow your kidney to drain. It may be used to help your kidney pass kidney stones or to prevent against infection.

Symptoms associated with a ureteral stent:

Stents can be quite uncomfortable. Sometimes, they will give you all of the symptoms of a urinary tract infection.

Symptoms include:

  • Flank pain
  • Pain in your abdomen or pelvic area
  • Blood in your urine
  • Feeling like you need to void frequently
  • Urgency, or needing to rush to the toilet
  • Incontinence or leakage of urine
  • Burning when you void

These symptoms are normal. If possible, avoid going to the emergency department for the above symptoms. Call your urologist’s office during the day to discuss pain medications or other strategies to manage your symptoms.

Call your doctor’s office or proceed to the emergency department urgently if you have:

  • Fever >38.3°C
  • Chills
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Flank pain which is not managed with oral pain management

These signs may mean that your stent is blocked. You may need to be seen by your urologist.

How to remove your stent:

Your urologist may ask you to remove your stent at home. This will only happen if you are able to see a string hanging out from your urethra.

Steps to removing your stent:

  • Find a comfortable position. Some patients prefer to pull their stent in the shower or bath.
  • Take a deep breath in.
  • Exhale and slowly withdraw the string. You will see a long plastic tube attached to this string.
  • Continue to pull until the stent is completely outside of the body.

Dispose of the stent in the garbage.