Despite dramatic advances in stone removal brought by extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, there is a continuing need for medical diagnosis and prevention. Justification for the medical approach include prevention of recurrence (medical treatment could prevent further stone formation, unlike a surgical approach), efficacy of prophylactic program (recurrent stone formation may be inhibited in most patients using a variety of treatment programs), inhibition of spontaneous passage (by medical treatment, although not amenable to surgical treatment), potential avoidance of renal colic (occurring before stone removal avoided by preventing recurrence), reduced need for stone removal (achieved by successful medical treatment), correction of extrarenal manifestations (deleterious acidosis, may be corrected by appropriate medical treatment) and cost-effectiveness. The cost of medical care is estimated to be half to a fourth that of surgical care. The need and type of medical treatment should be appraised continually to accommodate advances in techniques of stone removal.
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