I have a kidney stone (8 mm. estimate). It is located in my distal ureter (that means close to the bladder). I've seen the CT scan, and the stone is -- literally -- almost at the bladder. Maybe an inch or so.
I have been put on a Flomax-type alpha blocker (which causes the walls of the ureter to expand slightly) in the hopes that the stone will be able to pass.
Here's my problems/questions:
I have very little pain. In fact, it's only a mild discomfort. The CAT scan reveals that my kidneys are fine. So the stone is not creating a complete blockage. Is surgical intervention necessary? I would much rather cope with indefinite mild discomfort than go in for a procedure that requires me being intubated and unconscious.
Why? The medical people I am speaking with have a tendency to speak down to me. I understand that the whole "speak to them like they're 12" is ingrained in medical school, but I am really coming away with a sense of being "product" for them to process, some sort of idiot who should understand that complications are uncommon and just shut up and do what we say. I am not comfortable in extending trust to people who keep talking over me and not answering my questions (I had to repeat one question four times before I got an answer). Question: How common are complications? By complication, I mean something like waking up with brain damage because the anesthesiologist was trying to decide what to order for lunch and became absent-minded, or getting a kidney punctured when they insert the stent.
Also, about that stent. Why would they insert a stent INTO my kidney when the stone is only a few inches from my bladder? That was mentioned in the explanation. Why stick a tube all the way into a kidney that's doing fine on its own? I get the sense of "Hot dog! Can't wait to do EVERYTHING to this guy whether he needs it or not! What's he gonna do? Sue us? No one ever wins those suits, no matter how badly we screw 'em up." Question: Why does a stent need to go all the way into the kidney for a stone right near the bladder?
I also get a sense of, well, almost a greed for getting me into surgery. It's like they're trying for a quota. If a ureteroscopy is necessary, then okay, it's necessary. But I really get a sense of it being more a case of "No. You could leave this alone indefinitely, and the stone might pass on its own in three, four, maybe even five months. But if you did that, we couldn't do all the cool stuff we'd like to. You know, we don't get experience giving you Flomax and waiting for you to pass it on your own." Question: Has anyone had success with the wait and see approach for a stone distally located? Or am I just setting myself up for a trip to the ER some day in the future, screaming in agony the whole way?
So, has anyone had success passing a stone with Flomax? Does anyone know what the percentage of success is with Flomax (10%, 20%, 50%)? How about the degree to which Flomax increases the diameter of the ureter (5%, 50%, 2,000%?)