What are Bladder Stones?
Bladder stones are generally the result of crystalline growth of minerals excreted into the urinary tract. Bladder stones may be a singular stone or a collection of several stones in the bladder. They are generally caused as a result of concentrated urine, and another urinary abnormality such as urinary retention (incomplete emptying of bladder), urinary tract infections or even gout. Bladder stones can cause the presence of blood in the urine, or abnormal colored urine. Pain and difficulty with urination, persistent urinary tract infection, urgency, frequency, and interruption of the stream can be symptoms of a bladder stone.
A bladder stone should generally be removed once diagnosed, as it can cause a great deal of discomfort for the patient. Removal of the stone may be accomplished with an open operation or endoscopically. During an open operation, an incision is made over the Suprapubic area, access to the bladder is gained, the bladder is then opened and the stone is removed. The bladder and incision are then closed. The recovery for this operation is generally 4-6 weeks, as the incision takes that long to completely heal.
In the recent years, special lasers have been developed to treat bladder and other urinary stones. These lasers are used through special instruments called endoscopes, which allow access into the urinary tract through the natural orifice, in this case the urethra. When the endoscope is used to gain access into the bladder, it is called a cystoscope. When the endoscope is used to access the kidney, it is called a ureteroscope. Please click on these links to read more about these procedures.
To treat the bladder stone without any incisions, the laser is delivered inside the bladder with the aid of a cystoscope, and the bladder stone is pulverized with the stone. The stone fragments are then washed out of the bladder. The patient’s recovery after such an operation is generally much quicker, and they can return to normal activity in a couple of days.