Addition of Sodium Bicarbonate to Irrigation Solution May Assist in Dissolution of Uric Acid Fragments During Ureteroscopy

Jessica E Paonessa, James C Williams, James E Lingeman

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Introduction: We hypothesized that adding sodium bicarbonate (bicarb) to normal saline (NS) irrigation during ureteroscopy in patients with uric acid (UA) nephrolithiasis may assist in dissolving small stone fragments produced during laser lithotripsy. In vitro testing was performed to determine whether dissolution of UA fragments could be accomplished within 1 hour. Materials and Methods: In total 100% UA renal calculi were fragmented, filtered, and separated by size. Fragment sizes were <0.5 mm and 0.5 to 1 mm. Similar amounts of stone material were agitated in solution at room temperature. Four solutions were tested (NS, NS +1 ampule bicarb/L, NS +2, NS +3). Both groups were filtered to remove solutions after fixed periods. Filtered specimens were dried and weighed. Fragment dissolution rates were calculated as percent removed per hour. Additional testing was performed to determine whether increasing the temperature of solution affected dissolution rates. Results: For fragments <0.5 mm, adding 2 or 3 bicarb ampules/L NS produced a dissolution rate averaging 91% ± 29% per hour. This rate averaged 226% faster than NS alone. With fragments 0.5 to 1 mm, addition of 2 or 3 bicarb ampules/L NS yielded a dissolution rate averaging 22% ± 7% per hour, which was nearly five times higher than NS alone. There was a trend for an increase in mean dissolution rate with higher temperature but this increase was not significant (p = 0.30). Conclusions: The addition of bicarbonate to NS more than doubles the dissolution rate of UA stone fragments and fragments less than 0.5 mm can be completely dissolved within 1 hour. Addition of bicarb to NS irrigation is a simple and inexpensive approach that may assist in the dissolution of UA fragments produced during ureteroscopic laser lithotripsy. Further studies are needed to determine whether a clinical benefit exists.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Endourology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)305-308
Publication statusPublished - 1. Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • ureteroscopy, uric acid, stones, dissolution, sodium bicarbonate

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