< Back to Main Blog Page Ureteroscopy

What Is a Ureteroscopy?


A ureteroscopy is a procedure that involves the passing of a small, lighted scope through the urethra and bladder and up the ureter. A ureteroscopy might be recommended to search for a polyp, tumor, abnormal tissue, or ureteral strictures. One of the most common conditions that requires a ureteroscopy is ureteral stones. Ureteral stones are kidney stones that are found in one of the ureters that connect your kidney to your bladder. The ureters are small tubes and ureteral stones can block the flow of urine through these narrow tubes. This can cause the kidney to swell as well as the ureter to spasm. Symptoms can be very painful. When a ureteral stone starts causing problems, a ureteroscopy may be necessary to see what is happening as well as to possibly remove the ureteral stone.

Ureteroscopy with Lithotripsy

Ureteroscopy is used to treat problems like ureteral strictures and small tumors, and to perform lithotripsy with urinary stone removal. Larger kidney stones, including ureteral stones, can be treated without ureteroscopy using a non-invasive procedure called shock wave lithotripsy in which high-energy sound waves delivered through the skin break the stone into tiny fragments that can then be passed through the urine. 

Types of Lithotripsy

When kidney stones are too large to pass through the urinary tract, lithotripsy can be used to break up large stones into smaller stones. There are five types of lithotripsy:

  • Laser Lithotripsy – A laser fiber is used to fragment stones which can be retrieved during surgery or passed spontaneously
  • Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) – pressure waves break the stones from outside of the body. Large stones may require multiple treatments
  • Ultrasonic lithotripsy – high-frequency sound waves pulverize the stones 
  • Mechanical/Ballistic – Small probe mechanically breaks the stone
  • Electrohydraulic lithotripsy (EHL) – Electrical shock waves break down kidney stones  

Symptoms of Ureteral Stones

When a ureteral stone blocks the flow of urine from the kidney to the bladder, the symptoms can be very painful and can include:

  • Severe, sharp pain in the side and back and/or below the ribs 
  • Pain that radiates to the lower abdomen and/or groin

If you’d like to learn more about treatment options for kidney or ureteral stones or any urologic condition, contact one of the 23 KCUC Urology and Oncology locations throughout Kansas and Missouri and schedule an appointment to speak with a urologist. At KCUC, you see the best in KC.