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Kidney Stones

Treating kidney stones — SLUCare Urology

"More painful than childbirth." That's how some patients — who've experienced both — describe the pain of kidney stones.

Kidney stones are most commonly formed when there are elevated levels of calcium in the blood. Causes include dehydration, obesity, pregnancy, sedentary lifestyle, bariatric surgery, as well as chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, irritable bowel disease, gout, polycystic kidney disease and hyperparathyroidism. Kidney stones send men and women of all ages to the emergency room with severe, one-sided back pain that doesn't go away regardless of body position. Symptoms may also include nausea and vomiting.

The size of a kidney stone determines how — or if — it is treated. Some stones are small enough to pass on their own. Others require intervention.

SLUCare urologists use both non-surgical and surgical methods for removing kidney stones.

  • Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy — This non-invasive procedure uses ultrasonic waves to break up stones from the outside of the body. The stone particles then leave the body through the urinary tract.
  • Ureteroscopic stone extraction — In this procedure, the surgeon guides a small scope through the urinary tract into the kidney, then uses lasers to break up the stone. The stone particles are collected in a tiny basket for removal from the kidney. 
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy — This endoscopic treatment allows the surgeon to access the kidney through a small incision in the back. The surgeon then inserts a scope into the kidney, uses lasers and pneumatic probes to destroy the stones, collects the particles with a tiny basket, then removes them from the kidney.  
  • Robotic surgery — For complex cases involving large stones, abnormal anatomy or morbid obesity, a minimally invasive robotic procedure may be recommended. This involves the use of laparoscopic instruments to open the kidney and remove the stone in one piece.

Academic Expertise

SLUCare urological surgeons offer the resources and expertise you'll find only through an academic medical practice. Our physicians collaborate with other specialists from Saint Louis University School of Medicine, including nephrologists, cardiologists and critical care specialists. Through this collaborative approach, we are able to provide comprehensive care, even for patients with complicated medical conditions. We work together to treat the kidney stones causing you pain, understand why the stones developed, and develop a plan to help prevent them in the future.

Contact Us

For an appointment or for more information, call 314-977-4440.

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