Advantages and Disadvantages of Ureteroscopy

Ureteroscopy

The ureters are tubes connecting the urinary bladder and the kidney. Ureteroscopy is a surgical procedure where the internal surface of the ureters can be examined by an instrument called ureteroscope. This procedure is very beneficial in many ways, but as in all surgical procedures, there is a downside too. Here, we take a look at both sides of the coin in the procedure of ureteroscopy.

Advantages of Ureteroscopy

Listed below are some of the advantages of ureteroscopy:

  • Direct Approach: The stone can be viewed directly which makes it easy to locate it and break it with lasers or special instruments.

  • No Incision: The entire procedure from detection to rectification can be carried out in the absence of any incisions.

  • Entry into the kidney: If flexible ureteroscopy is done, the advantage is that access is available into each part of the kidney, enabling a complete elimination of the stones.

  • Stones Undetected by X-rays: Due to the awkward location of some stones, they sometimes do not show up in an x-ray. Through ureteroscopy, the advantage is to detect such stones easily.

  • Substitute for Drug Therapy: Some patients like pregnant women or highly obese people respond well to ureteroscopy, where they cannot take drugs for dissolving the stones.

Disadvantages of Ureteroscopy

Although considered safe and effective, there are a few limitations which are mentioned below:

  • Regional Restrictions: A disadvantage of this procedure is that access is restricted to only certain regions of the body.

  • Stone Size: A major disadvantage of ureteroscopy is that treatment of larger stones meets with limited success.

  • More Invasive: Ureteroscopy is said to be more invasive than shock wave lithotripsy.

  • Damage Risk: If the procedure is not done properly, there is a chance of some damage being caused by puncturing or tearing the walls of the urethra or urinary bladder.

Side-effects of Ureteroscopy

  • Urinating Sensation: There is a feeling of the need to urinate frequently.

  • Blood in the Urine: Blood may be found in the urine for a few days after the surgery.

  • Stent Discomfort: A stent may be used in the case of a swollen ureter. If this is the case, it is likely to have a string attached to it to remove it later which may extend outside. Special care will have to taken not to disturb this.

  • Pain: It is common for pain to develop in the region of the kidneys, bladder and urethra as a side-effect of ureteroscopy. Fortunately, this can be combated through painkillers administered promptly.

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