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Open Ureterolithotomy

(Removal of Stones in Ureter)
  • Definition

    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.
    The Urinary Tract
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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
  • Possible Complications

    Problems from this surgery are rare, but all surgeries have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems. These may include:
    • Adverse reaction to anesthesia
    • Infection
    • Excess bleeding
    • Heart attack or stroke
    • Blood clots
    • Death
    • 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
    • Hernia
    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 take the following:
      • Images of your urinary system to locate the stone
      • 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 medicines 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. It is given through a vein in the arm or hand.
    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 may 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.
    Post-procedure Care
    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.
    At Home
    It can take 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover from this procedure. When you return home, take these steps:
    • Ask your doctor when it is safe to have sex.
    • Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
  • Call Your Doctor

    Call your doctor if any of these occur:
    • Extreme urge or inability to urinate
    • Excess bleeding
    • Bruising
    • Redness or swelling at the site of the incision
    • Pus draining from the site of the incision
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medications you were given after the procedure
    • Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
    • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
    If you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

    National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse

    National Kidney Foundation


    Canadian Urological Association

    The Kidney Foundation of Canada


    Kidney stones in adults. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: Updated January 28, 2013. Accessed January 12, 2015.

    Skrepetis K, Doumas K, et al. Laparoscopic versus open ureterolithotomy. A comparative study. Eur Urol. 2001;40(1):32-6.

    Ureterolithotomy—dormia basket. Netdoctor website. Available at: Updated July 6, 2009. Accessed January 12, 2015.

    Ureterolithotomy (open) consent form. Queensland Government website. Available at: Published March 2011. Accessed January 12, 2015.

    Patient Information: Open removal of stone from ureter. Addenbrooke’s Hospital NHS website. Available at: Updated April 2014. Accessed January 12, 2015.

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