Dusting Away Kidney Stones

One-in-ten Americans will be affected by kidney stones at some point in their life. And about a million patients will experience a kidney stone attack this year.

While most stones will pass on their own, larger stones can be life-threatening. Now a new non-invasive treatment can help safely wipe out stones, even in extreme cases.

A sudden slip out of the shower one morning saved Stacy Cassell's life.

"If I wouldn't have fallen, we may never have found them," explains Stacy Cassell who had kidney stones.

Back pain from the fall sent her to the emergency room, but doctors found something much more serious, staghorn kidney stones. Stones so big they nearly filled both kidneys.

"He's like, you know, 'If we didn't find these, you could have been dead by the end of the year,'” says Stacy.

"So we're talking about a stone that's, maybe, about the size of the palm of my hand," explains Dr. Julio Davalos, MD, a the Chesapeake Urology Associates.

Doctor Julio Davalos says our bodies naturally flush out most kidney stones, but once they reach about the size of a raisin they become hard to pass.

"So size matters when it comes to stones," says Dr. Davalos.

Stacy's were so large, surgery was her only option. Doctor Davalos used a new laser called lumenis versapulse on Stacy's stones. This enabled her to pass the stones on her own, lowering her risk of complications.

"I'm able to fragment the stone into minute pieces of grain, grains of sand and they can just sort of pass that out of the kidne," explains Dr. Davalos.

Since a special type of laser energy setting is used, there's a better chance that no other tissue is affected, saving Stacy's kidneys.

"I've had no trouble since then," says Stacy.

Giving her a second chance to spend time with her son and dog Kelly.

Stacy's doctor told her she most likely got the stones because she doesn't keep herself hydrated.

The laser can be used in advanced cases like Stacy's, or to dust smaller stones. The minimally invasive treatment usually requires general anesthesia, but patients can go home the same day.


TOPIC: Dusting Away Kidney Stones
REPORT: MB# 3674

BACKGROUND: Kidney stones are small, hard deposits that form inside your kidneys. The stones are made of mineral and acid salts. Passing kidney stones can be quite painful, but the stones usually cause no permanent damage. (SOURCE: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/kidney-stones)

SYMPTOMS: A kidney stone may not cause symptoms until it moves around within your kidney or passes into your ureter. At that point, these signs and symptoms may occur:
* Severe pain in the side and back, below the ribs
* Pain that spreads to the lower abdomen and groin
* Pink, red or brown urine
* Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
(SOURCE: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/kidney-stones)

MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGH: There are many different types of lasers used in medicine. For kidney stone work, a PowerSuit holmium laser in direct contact with the stone is commonly used. This minimally-invasive treatment usually requires general anesthesia, but you may go home the same day. The doctor uses an endoscope in order to get close to the stone. A small fiber is snaked up the endoscope so that the tip can come in contact with the stone, the intense light energy breaks the stone into increasingly smaller pieces, which can be extracted or flushed out. (SOURCE: http://www.zimbio.com)


Jeff R. Jacomowitz

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