Before going home make sure you’re clear about:
- what you should eat and drink
- how to manage pain
- your level of activity
- driving (don’t forget to also check with your car insurance company in case they have any restrictions following an operation)
- symptoms which warrant medical attention
- any changes to your regular medication.
Blood in your urine
It's normal to have a small amount of blood in your urine for a few days to weeks after kidney stone surgery. It may be pink, reddish or even brown. If the bleeding increases significantly, you need to call your doctor or go to your local hospital’s emergency department. If the surgery has broken up your kidney stones, you may also have pain and nausea caused by passing small pieces of stone.
Going home with a nephrostomy tube in place
If you’ve had percutaneous nephrolithotripsy or open surgery you may wake up with a nephrostomy tube in place. This is a catheter inserted through your skin into your kidney to drain urine. Your doctor will usually remove the tube before you go home, although it can happen several days later at your follow-up appointment. If so, a nurse will tell you how to manage the tube at home.
Eating and drinking
Continue drinking plenty of fluid — enough to keep your urine a light straw colour. If you have other medical conditions, check with your doctor about safe fluid intake. Depending on the type of kidney stones you have, you can lower your chance of needing surgery down through track diet and lifestyle changes. See Alternatives to kidney stone surgery.
It may sting when you urinate for a few days after you come home, as well as pain passing small pieces of stone. Your doctor may recommend a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen or diclofenac. A warm bath can also help. If your pain is more intense, you may need a stronger painkiller. Your doctor may also give you medication to help make it easier to pass pieces of stone.
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent and/or clear up any infection in your urine. You may need to keep taking these for several days or weeks.
Straining your urine
Your doctor may ask you to strain your urine to look for little pieces of stone. Keep any stones because they can be analysed to find out what type of stones you’re making. This helps with future treatment decisions.
Level of activity
You’ll need to rest after you get home. Sitting may be uncomfortable for several days. Increase your level of activity gradually. Don’t try and do anything strenuous while your urine is blood-tinged.
Returning to work
Follow your surgeon’s advice about how much time to take off work. For shock wave lithotripsy and percutaneous nephrolithotripsy, you’ll probably need at least a week off work. For open surgery, you can count on at least 3 weeks off work, and possibly more.
If you’ve had a temporary ureteral stent put in, your doctor may remove it during your first follow up appointment. Removing a stent can be done in 2 ways. Some stents have a string attached to them which you will notice protruding from your urethra (or penis). Your doctor removes this type of stent by pulling on the string. You may also be able to do it yourself at home (if you doctor gives you the okay).
The second type of stent, which doesn’t have a string, is removed by your doctor using a procedure called cystoscopy. Learn more about cystoscopy
Some people find stents uncomfortable. If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor about pain management.
You’ll need to make a follow-up appointment with your surgeon, to check on your results.
Watching out for problems
You should call your surgeon or go to your local emergency department if you experience:
- blood in your urine that suddenly increases or becomes bright red
- sudden pain that gets increasingly worse or is unbearable
- nausea that lasts for days
- heavy bleeding through your drainage tube
- swelling or redness around your incision
- light-headedness or dizziness, chest pain or shortness of breath.