Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Kidney Stones: Modern Technology to the Rescue


A kidney stone is an aggregation of certain materials -phosphorus, calcium, and oxalate- which gets accumulated in the kidney or the urinary system. Kidney stones are one of the most common ailments affecting people today. A list of factors can contribute to the formation of kidney stones such as weight, environmental factors, and cystic kidney diseases, which are disorders that cause fluid-filled sacs to form on the kidneys etc. They can also be hereditary. Moreover, they are incurable as it is a tendency of the body to form them.  

In my family, kidney stones have plagued every generation, from my great-grandfathers to my grandfather to my father and me. Also, my mother and her father had kidney stones too. In their time, the only way to treat kidney stones was to perform an operation on the kidney. The doctors would cut open the kidney and take the stone out. This was a very risky not to mention expensive procedure and was only used when the stone reached a certain size. Also there was a high risk of infection and other post-op complications. But today, thanks to modern technology and advancements in healthcare, a lot of new and safe options have come up to treat kidney stones.  Some of them are:

Shock wave lithotripsy. A machine called a lithotripter is used to crush the kidney stone. The procedure is performed by an urologist on an outpatient basis and anesthesia is used. In shock wave lithotripsy, the person lies on a table or, less commonly, in a tub of water above the lithotripter. The lithotripter generates shock waves that pass through the person’s body to break the kidney stone into smaller pieces to pass more readily through the urinary tract.

Ureteroscopy. An ureteroscope—a long, tube like instrument with an eyepiece—is used to find and retrieve the stone with a small basket or to break the stone up with laser energy. The procedure is performed by a urologist in a hospital with anesthesia. The urologist inserts the ureteroscope into the person’s urethra and slides the scope through the bladder and into the ureter. The urologist removes the stone or, if the stone is large, uses a flexible fiber attached to a laser generator to break the stone into smaller pieces that can pass out of the body in the urine. The person usually goes home the same day.


There are more procedures too like Percutaneous nephrolithotomy but the above two are the comparatively used more. You can find more information about the above at National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC). Moreover, not only are these procedures less expensive and less invasive they also reduce the chances of post op complications considerably.
Hence we can see how with the use of modern technology and advance techniques people's lives have been touched and changed for the better.

#this article is written as an entry to ApolloTouchingLives


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