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Pronounced: sis-TOE-lih-thal-o-pak-see


Cystolitholapaxy is a procedure to break up bladder stones into smaller pieces and remove them. Bladder stones are minerals that have built up in the bladder. Ultrasonic waves or lasers may be delivered through a tool called a cystoscope to break up the stones.

Bladder Stone

si1713_bladder stone

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Reasons for Procedure

This procedure is done to treat bladder stones.

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, such as:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Bladder tear or damage
  • Bleeding
  • Reaction to the anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Damage to internal tissue or structures

Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:

What to Expect
Prior to Procedure

Your doctor may do the following:

  • Physical exam and medical history
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Imaging tests to evaluate the bladder and surrounding structures

Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.

Other things to remember before the procedure:

  • Arrange for a ride home from the care center.
  • If instructed by your doctor, do not eat or drink for 8 hours before the procedure.

This procedure can be done under local, spinal , or general anesthesia. It will block any pain. Sedation may also be used to ease anxiety.

With local anesthesia, a special jelly or fluid will be inserted into your urethra. This will numb the area. If you are having spinal anesthesia, it will be injected into your spine. General anesthesia will make you stay asleep during the procedure.

Description of Procedure

An instrument called a cystoscope will be placed through your urethra and into the bladder. The cystoscope has a camera that allows the doctor to see the stone. An ultrasonic probe or laser fiber is then passed through the cystoscope and used to fragment the stone. Stone fragments are flushed out of the bladder. The cystoscope is then removed.

Immediately After Procedure

Depending on the type of anesthesia used, you may be able to move around after the procedure. You may still have a catheter inside your urethra.

How Long Will It Take?

This is usually done in an outpatient setting. You will not need to stay overnight. The procedure takes 30-60 minutes depending on the size of the stones.

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. Ask your doctor about medication to help with pain after the procedure.

Post-procedure Care
At the Care Center

After the procedure, the care center staff may provide the following care:

  • Monitor you while you recover from the anesthesia and/or sedation
  • Remove any IV needles and the catheter (unless you have trouble emptying your bladder and need to keep the catheter)
  • Help you to eat and move around again
  • Give you pain medication

During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks

There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
  • Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
At Home

When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • Avoid difficult activity and heavy lifting
  • Follow your doctor's instructions.
Call Your Doctor

It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:

  • Increasing pressure or pain while passing urine
  • Pain in the back or abdomen
  • Being unable to urinate
  • Changes in frequency, odor, appearance, or volume of urine
  • Signs of infection, including fever or chills
  • Blood or blood clots in urine after the first few days
  • Painful urination or a burning sensation after the first few days
  • Leaking of urine

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Urology Care Foundation


Canadian Urological Association

Kidney Foundation of Canada


Cystoscopy and ureteroscopy. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: Updated June 2015. Accessed March 3, 2016.

Cystoscopy for women. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at:,P07723. Accessed March 3, 2016.

Marickar YM, Nair N, et al. Retrieval methods for urinary stones. Urol Res. 2009;37(6):369-376.

Last reviewed March 2016 by Adrienne Carmack, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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