Kidney Stone Treatments

Dr. Roger Sur, MD, demonstrates kidney stone removal at UC San Diego Health.

Many kidney stones will pass on their own. However, if a stone is too large or if it becomes stuck in the urinary tract, conservative treatment may not be sufficient.

UC San Diego Health's Kidney Stone Center treats a variety of stone conditions, including large "staghorn" or struvite stones. We offer innovative and effective options to treat and remove kidney stones.

Treatment Options for Larger or Problematic Kidney Stones

If you have large stones or stones that cause you problems, your UC San Diego Health physician may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:

This is why kidney stones are painful
  • Medical Expulsive Therapy: This approach uses alpha blocker medicines such as Flomax (tamsulosin) and Uroxatral (alfuzosin) to help you pass a kidney stone in the ureter. Multiple studies have shown that medications can increase the chance of spontaneous passage, decrease the time to expulsion, decrease the need for pain medications, reduce need for hospitalization and limit the need for surgical intervention to remove the stones. The medications are taken over four weeks typically.
  • Shock Wave Lithotripsy: This commonly used procedure uses shock waves that pass easily through the body but are strong enough to break up a kidney stone. It is the least invasive surgical technique and is generally performed on an outpatient basis. Learn more about shock wave lithotripsy.
  • Ureteroscopy: In this procedure, a very thin tube (ureteroscope) is passed into the urinary tract to the stone's location, where instruments can then be used to remove the stone or break it up for easier removal. Occasionally, you may need a small hollow tube (ureteral stent) placed in the ureter for a short time to keep it open and drain urine and any stone pieces. Ureteroscopy is often used for stones that have moved from the kidney to the ureter. Learn more about ureteroscopy.
  • Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy: This surgical technique is used for the largest types of stones. It generally requires a small (1 cm) incision in the side or back and use of a scope to remove the kidney stone. This procedure is performed on an inpatient basis. Learn more about percutaneous nephrolithotomy.

​Appointments & Referrals


Kidney Stone Specialists