(Removal of Stones in Ureter)
An open ureterolithotomy is a surgery to remove stones from the ureter.
The ureter is a tube between the kidney and the bladder. Urine passes down to the bladder through this tube.
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Reasons for Procedure
Ureterolithotomy is used to remove stones in a ureter that:
- Are too large to pass
- Cause pain or bleeding
- Cause infection
- Block the flow of urine
- Place pressure on the kidney
Problems from the test are rare. However, all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Excess bleeding
- Heart attack or stroke
- Blood clots
- Excess scarring or narrowing in the ureter that can lead to kidney problems
- Failure to remove the kidney stone
- Problems urinating
- Bowel blockages
- Excess scarring of incision
Smoking may increase your risk of complications.
Talk to your doctor about these risks before the procedure.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do the following:
- Take images of your urinary system to locate the stone
- Take blood and urine tests
- Ask about your medical history
- Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking. Do not start taking any new medications, herbs, or supplements without talking to your doctor.
- You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.
- Arrange for a ride from the hospital. Arrange for help at home as you recover.
- The night before your surgery, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight unless told otherwise by your doctor.
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep through the procedure.
Description of the Procedure
An incision will be made in your side or abdomen. The incision location will depend on exactly where the stone is. Both muscle and skin will need to be cut to expose the ureter. The stone will be located in the ureter. An incision will be made in the ureter just above the stone. The stone will then be removed. A stent may be placed in the ureter. This is a device to help keep the ureter open. The ureter will then be sewn shut with stitches. The muscles and skin will then be sewn shut with stitches or staples. A tube will be placed in the wound. It will help drain out any extra fluids while the wound heals.
The stone may be sent to a laboratory for testing.
Immediately After Procedure
After the operation, you will be taken to the recovery room for observation. X-rays may be taken to make sure the stone was completely removed.
How Long Will It Take?
About 60-90 minutes
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. You will be given medication to help manage pain during recovery.
Average Hospital Stay
You may need to stay in the hospital for about 3 to 4 days. If you have any problems, you may need to stay longer.
At the Hospital
- You may need oxygen for a brief time after your operation.
- You will have a tube near your incision. It will be removed once fluid stops draining from the wound. This generally happens within 3 to 4 days of surgery.
- You may have an IV until you are eating and drinking normally.
- You will have a catheter that will drain your urine until you are able to move around on your own.
- You will be given pain medication as needed.
- You may be encouraged to exercise by walking the day after surgery.
- You may be given blood thinning medication to prevent clots.
It can take 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover from this procedure. Follow your doctor's instructions about activity restrictions. Ask our doctor when you can resume sexual activity.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
- Extreme urge or inability to urinate
- Excess bleeding
- Redness or swelling at the site of the incision
- Pus draining from the site of the incision
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Pain that you cannot control with the medications you were given
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
National Kidney Foundation
Urology Care Foundation
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
Kidney stones. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/kidney-stones. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Skrepetis K, Doumas K, Siafakas I, Lykourinas M. Laparoscopic versus open ureterolithotomy. A comparative study. Eur Urol. 2001;40(1):32-36.
Patient information: Open removal of stone from ureter. Addenbrooke’s Hospital NHS website. Available at: http://www.camurology.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/ureterolithotomy-44.pdf. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Ureterolithotomy (open) consent form. Queensland Government website. Available at: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0024/145824/urology_21.pdf. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD Last Updated: 1/29/2021