price of surgery to remove kidney stones?

kathy7bSeptember 10, 2009

I have spent $500 on the diagnosis of my 3 year old female cat's kidney stones - there are two dime to penny sized stones in the bladder. The vet wants to remove them surgically at a cost of $765 including anesthesia, IV fluids, and 1 day of hospitalization. Is this a good price or should I check with another vet that was recommended by a few of my neighbors? I love my cat, but it is really stretching it to pay for the surgery this month.

The vet seemed to think it would be okay for us to wait a month or so for the surgery until we can build up some more cash to pay for the surgery. She said we just need to keep her on the antibiotics. I'm worried that she could get stopped up and the bladder rupture, incurring a much larger vet bill and perhaps end up with a very poor outcome for the cat. Do any of you have experience with this?


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That's almost exactly the same price that I got quoted today for the same surgery. Our cat has 3 to 4 very small stones in her bladder and we are opting for now to treat with antibiotics and a prescription diet for 4 weeks and then take another x-ray to see if the stones have dissolved.
If the stones do not dissolve we have to see what we want to do.
Good luck with your kitty.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 10:50PM
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I would get her to another vet immediately. Kidney stones are not anything to mess around with, and are very painful to Kitty, especially ones that large. Antibiotics won't help the problem, she needs to be treated at least with pain meds. Definitely get her some kidney diet canned food, most regular cat food is bad for kitties with kidney problems.

We had the same thing happen with our cat last year, but we spent $6000 (yes, that IS three zeros behind the six!) because the first surgery did get all the stones but she developed more immediately. She was at an emergency hospital which is more expensive, but that also has the benefits of many vets on staff as well as students, so she was well diagnosed and cared for. After the second surgery and six ultrasounds, she was better but still developing the stones. The vet said we could do another surgery or take her home and let nature take its course. I chose to take her home. When we got home, I had a talk with her. I told her I loved her so very much and wanted her to stick around on this earth for a while longer, but she had to decide. Within days she was gaining weight, and within a week she was as playful as a kitten again. To this day she acts like a 1 year old, not the 10 she will turn in a few months. Fortunately for us it wasn't her time, but I wouldn't have done anything differently. The cost is something that "if" with pets, it is "when". Many pets don't just pass away peacefully, they let you know they are sick, and pet owners need to be prepared financially. It comes with the territory.

I wish you the best of luck with your kitty, but please get a second opinion. Perhaps the vet can work out a payment system with you, but this isn't something that can wait until you can afford it. Stones that large are so painful. Keep us posted.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 4:05AM
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Is it bladder or kidney stones? Kathy you said kidney stones first and then mentioned that they are in her bladder. Dime to penny sized sounds large to me. I looked at our cats x-ray and 2 dime size stones would fill her bladder completely. That said we were told our cat has a small bladder.
I agree with Michelle. If they are truly kidney stones I would get another opinion.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 7:50AM
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KIDNEY stones are not BLADDER stones. KIDNEY stones are in the KIDNEY while BLADDER stones are in the BLADDER. In fact, you should specify which bladder, since the gall bladder can also develop stones.

KIDNEY stones are extremely difficult to remove and that surgery is usually referred to a specialist unless the entire kidney is affected and the vet decides to remove the entire affected kidney. Some vets won't even remove a kidney because of potential anesthetic complications (namely bleeding). Also you have to do special testing to make sure the remaining kidney is adequately functioning prior to surgery if you are going to remove a kidney or a kidney stone.

BLADDER stones are much easier to remove since they are just floating around in the bladder. However if the cat blocks while waiting for surgery, that is a life-threatening emergency surgery. If you have to go to an emergency vet for surgery, it will be much more expensive. If the cat is blocked for a significant amount of time, the cat would suffer greatly as toxins that should be excreted through urine get re-absorbed into the body and cause pain. Electrolytes often become unbalanced and need to be corrected prior to surgery or serious anesthetic consequences can result. Also permanent kidney damage can result due to physical pressure of urine backing up into the kidneys and from the toxins.

I just unblocked a small dog with BLADDER stones, and everything came to just under $800. That included pre and post surgical x-rays, IV fluids, hospitalization, surgery, stone analysis, urine culture, CBC, chemistry profile, fentanyl patch and other pain meds. My patient had no complications from being blocked as he was presented immediately for surgery (was urinating fine just 12 hours before surgery).

I would have charged a LOT more to remove KIDNEY stones because it is a more complicated surgery, and there is more testing to do.

I hope your cat really has BLADDER stones and does well with everything.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 9:13PM
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I just saw in a magazine as ad for a prescription diet for bladder stones. It was made by Hill's. Has your vet given you the option to try something like this? I have heard of it, don't know if it works. Maybe it only works if they are really small.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 9:21AM
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Not to hijack this thread, but that is what our cat is on right now in addition to the antibiotic. We are hoping that the stones will dissolve, if not she will have to have surgery. I believe there are two kind of stones. One that will dissolve and one that won't. Our concern is at the moment that she has very little appetite, but seems to like the Hill's S/D. I would like her to eat the canned variety, but she prefers the dry. She only takes a few nibbles, but that's better than nothing. I can't let the food sit out, because the other two cats and the dog will eat it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 9:49AM
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My dog had bladder stones which were struvite. This type of stone, and this type only, can be dissolved with S/D food. It worked great with Max the second time he got bladder stones. The first time, he blocked so he had surgery. It can take a couple of months for the stones to dissolve, and S/D is very fattening. But being a Lab, he'll eat anything...

If the pet has calcium oxalate stones and not struvite stones, S/D will make everything much worse.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 5:27PM
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we should probably have the surgery to remove the stones instead of feeding s/d for a month. She had no crystals in her urine and from what I have reading with struvite stones there are usually crystals in the urine. Is that correct?
Our reg. vet whom I trust is not back until Tuesday and we have been dealing with the urgent care vet that was recommended by our vet's vet tech. Cleo is definitively feeling better. She is back to partaking in her usual daily routine. She is back to using the litter box (still peeing small amounts, but no visible blood) and eating a little.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 7:12PM
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Kathy, how is your kitty doing? And are they kidney or bladder stones? Please drop us a line, we are all worried about your kitty!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 12:14AM
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Meghane, How common is kidney stones in cats? I have had 15 cats over my lifetime and none ever had them. Just wondering.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 12:29AM
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Kidney stones are not that common. At least not diagnosed that often. I've had several cases recently because of cats in acute renal failure- I take rads for prognosis; stones in the kidneys are a VERY poor prognostic indicator. I'll bet a lot of older cats with chronic renal failure eventually develop kidney stones but it is never diagnosed because the owner and vet already knows about the CRF and when the cat no longer responds to everything that is being done, whether or not there are kidney stones is moot. The point being, you don't know kidney stones are NOT there unless you look.

Bladder stones are not uncommon in cats.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 9:16PM
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Dontcha love it when someone asks a question, you take time to respond and help the poster, then they never come back to even say thanks?

I hope that this thread helps someone out there!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 7:10AM
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I'm not the OP, but I wanted to let you know that Cleo did not have surgery. Our vet who likes a conservative approach gave us the option, but said that her stones are so tiny that he couldn't believe that they gave her so much trouble. She is on a Chinese powdered herb mixture for a few month. He said he had could success with it dissolving stones in dogs, cats won't usually eat it. We tricked her by mixing it with Nature's Variety raw, frozen diet. Too yummy to pass up. She is back to her old self. No sign of infection, eating well and being playful.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 3:37PM
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Glad Cleo is doing well. I use herbs sometimes too.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 7:43PM
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Great to hear, I thought they were large stones, the OP said they were dime/penny size which is large!

Best of luck with kitty! Just make sure she stays hydrated and keep an eye on her litterbox habits.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2009 at 7:29AM
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