This leaflet explains more about having a ureteroscopy. It describes the benefits, risks, alternatives and what you can expect when you come to a hospital. If you have any further
questions, please speak with a doctor or nurse caring for you.
What is a ureteroscopy
The urinary system is made up of the kidneys, ureter (narrow, muscular tube that connects your
kidney to your bladder), bladder and urethra (a tube that allows urine to pass through the bladder
and out of the body).
A ureteroscopy is a procedure that looks into the ureter and kidney. It involves inserting a special
a telescope, called a ureteroscope, into the urethra and then passing it through to the bladder and
then on into the ureter and kidney.
The operation is usually performed under general anesthetic. This means that you are asleep
during the procedure. There are risks associated with having a general anesthetic, but they are
small. Occasionally a spinal anesthetic is used (where a needle is put in your back to numb you
from the waist down) – your anesthetist will discuss the type of anesthetic you need to you.
You should have received a copy of the leaflet Having an anesthetic. If you have not, please
ask your doctor or nurse for a copy.
The ureteroscope is about the thickness of a pencil and has a tiny camera on one end, so the
doctor can view an image of your urinary system on a screen. It is usually used to treat kidney
stones, but it is also used to help make a diagnosis for unexplained bleeding, assessment of
some cancers in the ureter or kidney and to check if treatments have worked.
Why do I need a ureteroscopy
You have been advised to have a ureteroscopy to treat stones or to try to find the cause of your
symptoms. Sometimes this will be clear from X-rays or tests of your blood or urine, but often the
only way your doctor can be sure what is going on is to look inside your bladder and ureter.
A ureteroscopy is commonly used to treat stone disease or cancers in the ureter and kidney. It
can help to diagnose the cause of:
abnormal cells in your urine
blood in your urine (haematuria)
What are the risks associated with a ureteroscopy
There are risks associated with any operation. Your doctor will explain these risks to you before
you sign the consent form. If you are unsure of anything, please make sure you ask your doctor.
A ureteroscopy is usually performed with no problems whatsoever. However, there is a possibility
Discomfort – you may feel a stinging sensation when you urinate, but this should only
last a day or two. Taking a normal pain-relieving tablet as prescribed may help. If the
pain is severe and lasts for more than a couple of days, please contact us or your GP.
Bleeding – you may have a small amount of bleeding as a result of the procedure - this
is completely normal. Some patients do not have any bleeding at all, but some find their
urine is slightly pink for a few days after this procedure. Drinking plenty of water (about
three liters spaced out over 24 hours) can help to clear the urine. If your urine remains
pink after a few days, please contact us (using the numbers on the back page) or your
Infection – a urine infection can cause a fever and pain when you pass urine. The risk of
this can be reduced by drinking plenty of water after the procedure. You will be given an
injection of antibiotics when you have the anesthetic.
Stent insertion – you are likely to need a stent (a fine plastic tube) put in. The stent
allows urine to drain from your kidney into your bladder when you have a blockage (such
as a stone or growth) in your ureter (narrow, muscular tube that connects your kidney to
your bladder) - see section on ureteric stents below.
Unable to pass the telescope – in some patients, the ureter (narrow, muscular tube that
connects your kidney to your bladder) is too narrow to allow the telescope to pass. This
occurs in approximately one in 20 cases. In this situation to avoid damaging the ureter,
you will have a stent inserted (see below) and the procedure will be re-booked. The stent
widens the ureter so usually, the second procedure is more straightforward.
Need for further procedures – sometimes the amount of stone will mean that a further
procedure is required. Your doctor will discuss this with you.
Ureteric stricture – a narrowing can form in the tube as a result of the procedure. This
occurs in less than one in 100 cases.
Ureteric injury – very rarely the ureter can get injured or damaged from the procedure.
Great care is taken to avoid this. It is usually treated by inserting a ureteric stent.
there any alternatives
This depends very much on the nature of the job you do and the type of operation you have had. Most Are
A ureteroscopy is the only way to have a close enough look at the upper urinary system to
diagnose certain ureter and kidney conditions. There are other options to fragment stones which
your doctor will discuss with you.
What is a ureteric stent
A ureteric stent is a thin plastic tube inserted into your kidney. It allows urine to drain from your
kidney into your bladder when you have a blockage in your ureter (narrow, muscular tube that
connects your kidney to your bladder). They are often inserted for people who have stones blocking their kidney and are usually required after a ureteroscopy to protect the tube where the
telescope has been.
In some patients, the stent only needs to be left in for a few days. In this situation, a string is
often left attached to the stent which is visible to you from your urethra (a tube that allows urine
to pass through the bladder and out of the body). This allows the stent to be removed easily in a clinic and minimises the length of time the stent is left in. Patients usually do not mind this and
it avoids the need for a telescope procedure to retrieve the stent.
What are the risks associated with a ureteric stent
The stent may irritate your bladder causing you to feel a need to pass urine frequently.
You may see blood in your urine on some occasions, this is made worse by physical
activity such as going to the gym, walking, hoovering or carrying heavy bags. Even if
your urine has a lot of blood in it, as long as you are passing urine this is fine. The blood
in the urine may be cleared by drinking the recommended amount of daily fluids and will
decrease as the days following the surgery pass.
It is common to feel pain in your back (on the side of your body where the stent is) when
passing urine. For most patients, the symptoms are minor and can be tolerated.
Occasionally the stent may develop a crystal coating on its surface and may be difficult to
remove. Usually, this is not a significant problem but is the reason that we try not to leave
the stent in for any longer than is needed.
Very occasionally a stent may get displaced, usually slipping towards the bladder, and
sometimes it may even fall out. This is very unusual. If this happens, please contact
the hospital on the numbers listed at the end of this leaflet or your GP.
Having a stent, along with an underlying kidney problem, makes it more likely that you could
develop a urinary tract infection (UTI). Some of the symptoms that you may experience should
you get a UTI include a raised temperature, increased pain or discomfort in the kidney or bladder
area, a burning sensation while passing urine and generally feeling unwell. UTI’s require
treatment with antibiotics, which your GP can prescribe for you.
Giving my consent (permission)
We want to involve you in decisions about your care and treatment. If you decide to go ahead,
you will be asked to sign a consent form. This states that you agree to have the treatment and
you understand what it involves. If you would like more information about our consent process,
please speak to a member of staff caring for you.
How can I prepare for the procedure
If you smoke, you may be asked to stop smoking, as this increases the risk of developing a
chest infection or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Smoking can also delay wound healing because
it reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches the tissues in your body. If you would like to give
up smoking, please speak to your nurse or call the Trust stop smoking service on 020 7188
0995, or call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0300 123 1044.
If you are taking any medication, these may need to be temporarily stopped or adjusted around
the time of your surgery or treatment, you will be given information on how to do this at your
pre-assessment appointment. Do not make any changes to your usual medicines and continue to take them unless you have been advised to do so. Please remember to bring them to a hospital with you.
If you are taking any medicines that thin your blood, such as antiplatelet medicines (for example
aspirin or clopidogrel) or anticoagulant medicines (for examples warfarin or rivaroxaban), please
tell your doctor or the nurse as you may need to stop them temporarily before your surgery.
Also, tell your doctor or nurse if you have diabetes as you may need to alter the dose of your
diabetes medicines, as you will need to fast before the procedure.
Please let us know if you are taking any regular medicines (including anything you buy yourself
over the counter or any herbal or homeopathic medicines) and if you have any allergies to any
Further information on stopping any medicines will be given to you when you come for pre-
assessment. Please ask us if you have any questions.
What are the arrangements for coming to hospital
You may be asked to attend a pre-admission appointment. This is to have blood tests and a
physical examination, to make sure you are fit for the procedure.
Your admission to hospital for your ureteroscopy will either be:
onto a ward, usually the day before your operation
directly to the day surgery unit (DSU) on the day of your operation.
You will be told in advance, either at your pre-admission appointment or by letter, which one will
apply to you.
If you are to be admitted to the ward:
you will receive a telephone call on the morning of your admission to tell you which ward
to come to
when you arrive at the ward you will be welcomed and shown to your bed by a nurse
you will need to have a shower on the morning of your operation.
If you are to be admitted via the day surgery unit (DSU):
you will be given an information leaflet at your pre-admission appointment
you will be told when to stop eating and drinking prior to the procedure
you should have a shower or bath at home before arriving at the hospital
when you arrive in DSU, you will be welcomed and taken to a cubicle to change into a
gown, a nurse will also check your urine, blood pressure, temperature, and pulse.
If the procedure is likely to be in the morning, patients are usually told to come in at 7.30am; or
11.30am if it is likely to be in the afternoon. This means there may be some waiting around
before the procedure and sometimes the order of the operating list has to change. Please bring
a book or other entertainment with you.
Please do not eat or drink anything (except non-fizzy water) for six hours before your procedure.
This means that you cannot suck on sweets or chew gum. You are allowed to drink water up to
two hours before your procedure. If you continue to eat or drink after this, your surgery will
What happens before the procedure
Before your procedure, you will be visited by the anesthetist who will discuss the type of
anesthetic you will be given and the different types of pain relief available to you after the
procedure when the anesthetic has worn off.
You will need to change into a hospital gown and will be given elasticised stockings to wear.
These help to reduce the possibility of blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) forming in your legs
during surgery. Please remove all jewelry. If you have jewelry that cannot be removed,
please let us know so that we can put tape on it. This is so that it does not interfere with our
You may be taken to a theatre on a trolley or you may walk to theatre, accompanied by a nurse.
What happens after the procedure
Although you will be awake a minute or two after the procedure is finished, you are unlikely to
remember anything until you are back in your bed. You may feel sick or be sick for up to 24
hours after the operation. This is an after effect of the anesthetic. If this happens, we will give
you some anti-sickness medication. You will be encouraged to start drinking as soon as
possible, as long as you are not feeling sick. You may eat a light meal as soon as you feel able
to once on the ward. You should be eating and drinking normally after two or three days.
The anesthetic may make you clumsy, slow and forgetful for about 24 hours. Although you
may feel fine, your reasoning, reflexes, judgment, coordination, and skill can be affected for 48
hours after your surgery. If you are discharged from the hospital less than 48 hours from your
surgery, please rest when you get home and do not go to school or work on the day after your
surgery. For 48 hours after your surgery for your safety please DO NOT:
drive any vehicle, including a bicycle
operate any machinery
attempt to cook, use sharp utensils or pour hot or boiling liquids
take sleeping tablets
make any important decisions or sign any contracts.