Removing Urinary Stones With Lithotripsy In Dogs

Lithotripsy is an alternative to surgery for removing urinary stones (uroliths) in dogs. For this procedure, the dog is placed under general anesthesia. Next, an endoscope is passed up the urethra to the stone. Once it is in the correct area, a laser is fed through the scope into contact with the stone. Energy from the laser causes the stone to crumble into small pieces. This procedure is repeated until all the stones or pieces of stones are small enough to be retrieved with the endoscope. Since there are no incisions, the advantage to this procedure is shorter healing time and a much lower chance of stricture formation. Disadvantages include thermal burns, difficultly reaching and removing all stones and risks commonly associated with general anesthesia.

Here are the guidelines often used by Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine to select dogs for this procedure:

-Small male dogs <15 pounds
-Male dogs with 2 or more large stones
-Female dogs with the entire bladder full of stones
-Dogs with uncontrolled urinary tract infections 

-Laser Lithotripsy of Canine Bladder and Urethral Stones, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine,
-Lulich, J et al, Efficacy and safety of laser lithotripsy in fragmentation of urocystoliths and urethroliths for removal in dogs, J Vet Med Assoc. May 2009;234(10):1279-1285.


Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

2 replies on “Removing Urinary Stones With Lithotripsy In Dogs”

  1. Hi
    my chihuahua dx w stones in urethra would he be a candidate for this procedure. Stones visble on X-ray , 20+ stones, unknown composition, struvite mentioned , but calcium base very common in area . Oxalates possible due to his diet – cheese. What other info would be required to evaluate.
    The vet specialist here wants to do rectal wall hernia repair possibly bilateral in addition to reroute of urethra.

    1. Wow, I feel sorry for your dog. That has got to hurt! In most cases, stones can be retro-pulsed back into the urinary bladder and removed from there. I always send in stones for analysis to the University of Minnesota, Veterinary College Stone Center. I hope your dog ends up having struvite stones as they can be controlled with diet.

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