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What Is Involved in Bladder Stone Removal?

A cutaway of a female body showing the bladder in dark pink.
The human urinary tract, including the bladder in pink at the bottom.
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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 19 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Bladder stones are masses of crystallized minerals or other materials that sometimes form in the bladder. Bladder stone removal can often be as simple as increasing fluid intake, although it can be much more complicated in other situations. A procedure known as a cystoscopy is a common bladder stone removal method. In some cases, bladder stone removal requires open surgery and a few days in the hospital for additional monitoring.

Bladder stones that are small and are not causing an obstruction or bothersome symptoms may not need to be medically treated. In these cases, it is often appropriate to wait for natural bladder stone removal by the body. Drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, may help to flush the stones out more quickly than they would pass otherwise. If bothersome symptoms such as pain, fever, or blood in the urine develop, a doctor should be consulted for further evaluation.

A cystoscopy is a routine bladder stone removal procedure. A cystoscopy involves the insertion of a small tube into the bladder through the urethra. A tiny camera, known as a cystoscope, is then used to locate the stone. If necessary, the stone can be broken into smaller segments during this procedure and then flushed from the body. The cystoscopy is typically completed in less than half and hour and is frequently performed as an outpatient procedure, although some doctors may want to keep the patient hospitalized overnight for additional observation.

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Lithotripsy is a medical procedure that is sometimes used as a form of bladder stone removal. During this procedure, local anesthetic medications are often given to help reduce or eliminate pain or discomfort related to the lithotripsy surgery. Sound waves are used to break the stones into smaller pieces so they are more likely to be passed into the urine.

In situations where the stones are particularly large or if there is a blockage present, a more invasive type of bladder stone removal surgery may become necessary. In open surgery, the patient is completely sedated using general anesthesia, and an incision is made into the abdominal wall to allow the surgeon access to the stone. After the stone is removed, the incision is closed and the patient is monitored for potential signs of infection or other complications. It may be necessary to spend a few days in the hospital following open surgery, and recovery may take several weeks.

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