What Is a Retrograde Intrarenal Surgery (RIRS)?

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

What's the procedure for doing surgery inside the kidney through a scope without cutting the skin?

Doctor's response

It is called retrograde intrarenal surgery (RIRS) and it is, indeed, a procedure for doing surgery within the kidney using a viewing tube called a fiberoptic scope (an endoscope).

In RIRS the scope is placed through the urethra (the urinary opening) into the bladder and then through the ureter into the urine-collecting part of the kidney. The scope thus is moved retrograde (up the urinary tract system) to within the kidney (intrarenal).

RIRS may be done to remove a stone. The stone is seen through the scope and can then be manipulated or crushed by an ultrasound probe or evaporated by a laser probe or grabbed by small forceps, etc.

RIRS is performed by a specialist, a urologist (endourologist) with special expertise in RIRS. The procedure is usually done under general or spinal anesthesia.

The advantages of RIRS over open surgery include a quicker solution of the problem, the elimination of prolonged pain after surgery, and much faster recovery.

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Reviewed on 1/11/2018
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