Besides extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy, semi-rigid ureteroscopy (URS) has become an equal therapy of choice for the treatment of most distal ureteric stones. Before the wide availability of laser lithotripsy as a tool for stone fragmentation, pneumatic lithotripsy was, and still is, widely used. In a country like Iraq, availability and affordability are the huge questions asked. Besides the capital investment for a laser machine, the pneumatic device is reusable, whereas the laser fibers are limited in their reusability. This makes pneumatic lithotripsy a more cost-effective option, at least in our setting. The question remains whether both options, compared in our setting with our limited resources, are equally effective and beneficial to our patients.
Fifty patients were included in our prospective study who underwent URS for the treatment of a distal ureteric stone. Half each (n = 25) underwent pneumatic (group A) or laser lithotripsy (group B). Inclusion criteria were a single distal ureteric stone measuring 7-20 mm in largest diameter, no anatomical abnormality, age >18 years, and an unsuccessful attempt of medical expulsion therapy. Patients with signs of urinary infection and pregnant women were excluded. All patients were operated upon under spinal anesthesia. Data recorded included operation time, stone size, type of scope and lithotripter, complications, hospital stay, and stone-free rate.
Both groups did not show statistically significant differences in patient demography, stone size, operation time, complications, and stone-free rates (p > 0.05).
Both pneumatic and Ho:YAG laser lithotripsy are equally effective and safe in treating distal ureteric stones in our setting. If the cost and availability of laser treatment is an issue, pneumatic lithotripsy is a viable and more cost-effective option.

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