Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

by Carmack A

Definition

A ureteroscopy uses a small scope to look inside the ureters and kidneys. Ureters are tubes that carry urine away from the kidneys.

Reasons for Procedure

Ureteroscopy may be done to:

  • Look for cause of blockage in ureters
  • Look at abnormal areas of ureter or kidneys such as polyps or tumor
  • Remove a sample of tissue for testing

It may also be done as part of treatment:

  • To remove kidney stones
  • To remove abnormal tissue
  • To place a stent to help keep the ureter open

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Problems from anesthesia
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Harm to the urinary tract
  • Scarring
  • Problems passing urine

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

A urine test may be done to check for infection. An infection needs to be treated before the ureteroscopy can be done.

You will need to:

  • Arrange for a ride home.
  • Talk to your doctor about all medicines and supplements you are taking. Some may need to be stopped up to 1 week before the ureteroscopy.
  • Follow your care team’s advice on when to stop eating and drinking. You may need to drink fluids before the ureteroscopy.

Anesthesia

You will be given general anesthesia. You will be asleep.

Description of the Procedure

A small scope will be passed into the opening of the urinary tract. It will be passed up into the bladder, ureters, then kidneys. The doctor will be able to see the urinary tract with the scope.

Some treatment or tests may be done. A piece of tissue may be removed for testing. A stent may also be placed to help keep the ureters open. The scope will be removed when work is done.

How Long Will It Take?

30 minutes or longer if a biopsy or tissue or kidney stone removal is done.

Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain. You may have some burning during urination for 1 to 2 days after.

Average Hospital Stay

Most people go home the same day. You may need to stay longer.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

You may be given pain medicine.

At Home

You can return to your normal routine. Make an appointment to have the stent removed if one was used.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A lot of bleeding
  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Pain that you cannot control with medicine
  • Burning, pain, or problems when urinating

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

RESOURCES

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians  https://www.familydoctor.org 

Urology Care Foundation  https://www.urologyhealth.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Urological Association  https://www.cua.org 

Health Canada  https://www.canada.ca 

References

Cystoscopy and ureteroscopy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diagnostic-tests/cystoscopy-ureteroscopy#whatis. Updated June 2015. Accessed July 26, 2019.

Heat and cold therapy: understanding rationale for use. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:  https://health.ebsco.com/products/nursing-reference-center . Updated June 15, 2018. Accessed July 26, 2019.

Nephrolithiasis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  https://www.dynamed.com/condition/nephrolithiasis-in-adults-11 . Updated July 25, 2019. Accessed July 26, 2019.

Ureteroscopy. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/ureteroscopy. Accessed July 26, 2019.

Ureteroscopy. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/kidneystones%5Fureteroscopy. Accessed July 26, 2019.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2019
  • Update Date: 09/25/2019