What Is a Retrograde Intrarenal Surgery (RIRS)?

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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Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018