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The stone unit - information for patients



Information about stones

Stones are a common problem and their incidence is rising. The lifetime risk of developing stones is estimated to be around 10% and can be higher in certain populations. As stones tend to recur, it is important to check for any causes that can be treated. Lifestyle and dietary advice can also help to reduce the risk of further stones.

Treatment may consist of surveillance, breaking up the stones using shock waves (lithotripsy) or surgery with ureteroscopes where the stones are broken up with a laser. These do not involve any surgical cuts to the skin. For larger stones, a telescope can be placed into the kidney remove the stone. This is known as percutaneous nephro-lithotomy or PCNL. Open surgery is very rarely needed.

See our patient leaflets for more information on these treatments. The kidney stones section on the British Association of Urological Surgeons website also has more information on stones and potential treatment options.

Specialist services

Our stone unit provides specialist services for patients in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham and also is a tertiary referral centre for south-east England. We offer: 

  • onsite extra-corporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) - a treatment using shock waves to break up urinary stones
  • flexible uretero-renosocopy and laser lithotripsy - treatment to break up urinary stones by passing a telescope through your urethra (water passage)
  • percutaneous nephro-lithotomy (PCNL) – an operation to remove stones
  • stone surgery for obese patients
  • stone surgery for children
  • treatment for patients with cystinuria (a condition that can cause urinary stones). For more information visit Cystinuria UK - a website produced by health professionals to provide more relevant information for UK patients with cystinuria
  • endoscopic management of upper tract transitional cell carcinoma.