Effect of positioning on ureteric stone retropulsion: 'gravity works'

BJU Int. 2019 Jan;123(1):113-117. doi: 10.1111/bju.14510. Epub 2018 Sep 9.


Objective: To evaluate the potential impact of alterations in 'patient' position on laser-induced ureteric stone retropulsion in an in vitro model.

Materials and methods: A ceramic (phantom) stone was placed in a water-filled clear polymer tube and subjected to continuous laser energy until the stone had retropulsed a distance of 10 cm. The trial was stopped after 60 s if the stone had not reached 10 cm. The time and total energy needed to cause 10 cm of retropulsion were recorded at incline angles of 0°, 10°, 20°, and 40°; 10 trials at each angle were completed. The study was then repeated with pure calcium phosphate brushite stones.

Results: Retropulsion decreased with increasing incline angle of the saline-filled clear polymer tube. At 0° of incline the phantom stone reached a distance of 10 cm after 7.4 s. At 10°, 20° and 40°, the phantom stone migrated a mean maximum distance of 3.1, 1.2 and 0.7 cm, respectively, and the trial was stopped after 60 s. For the calcium phosphate stone, at 0° and 10° of incline, the stone reached 10 cm after 6.9 and 42.8 s, respectively (P < 0.05). At 20° and 40°, the calcium phosphate stone moved a mean maximum distance of 2.4 and 1 cm, and the trial was stopped after 60 s.

Conclusion: Alterations in the angle of inclination reduced stone retropulsion during ureteroscopic lithotripsy in an in vitro model to <1 cm. Increasing the incline angle of a patient may effectively preclude retropulsion when performing laser lithotripsy of ureteric stones.

Keywords: gravity; nephrolithiasis; patient positioning; retropulsion; ureteroscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Calcium Phosphates
  • Ceramics
  • Gravitation
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lithotripsy, Laser
  • Patient Positioning
  • Ureteral Calculi / therapy*
  • Ureteroscopy


  • Calcium Phosphates
  • calcium phosphate, dibasic, dihydrate