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, https://www.vetmed.vt.edu/vth/sa/clin/litho.asp.
-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.