The chance of a woman getting kidney stones is higher during pregnancy than any other time of her life, but most typical kidney stone treatments are not safe during pregnancy. In fact, some doctors recommend that pregnant women just drink plenty of water and wait to pass the stone naturally. Though treatment for kidney stones during pregnancy is limited, one common approach is placing a stent, or tube in the bladder so that urine can bypass the stone. A nephrostomy tube can also be put into the body, with the difference being that it is placed in the back and attached to a bag that can catch drainage from the kidney.
There are various treatments for kidney stones, but very few of them are considered safe for pregnancy. For example, lithiotripsy is a nonsurgical procedure that treats stones by sending shockwaves into the body, but it cannot be used on pregnant women since it involves anesthesia. Additionally, doctors are not sure of the effects on the fetus, if any. In fact, some doctors are so cautious about risks to the fetus that they may just prescribe a pain pill to pregnant women so that they can deal with the discomfort brought on by kidney stones during pregnancy, and then start treatment once the baby is delivered. If they have not passed the stones by the time of delivery, they can consider more aggressive treatment, such as surgery.
Others doctors just stick to less risky treatments, such as placing a urethral stent in the body that goes from the kidney to the bladder. This allows urine to pass the kidney stone, which in turn can get rid of the pressure and pain brought on by this issue. The only problem is that stents tend to collect calcium over time, so they need to be replaced about once every two months. Therefore, this kind of treatment for kidney stones during pregnancy is usually best toward the end of the third trimester so that the stent does not need to be replaced during pregnancy.
Another treatment for kidney stones during pregnancy is a nephrostomy tube, which is inserted through the back and into the kidney. While this kind of tube has the same goal of a stent, which is to allow urine to bypass the kidney stones, the procedure is different in that the urine flows into a bag that stays outside the body. This type of treatment for kidney stones during pregnancy is best when the situation must be monitored for a long time, such as in the beginning of pregnancy.