About a half million Americans each year show up in the emergency room and learn they have a kidney stone. These calcium crystals can carry excruciating pain when they exit the body.
“If someone is comfortable enough we can give them pain medication and a little bit of time and if it’s a small stone it could pass all the way through- then we don’t have to do anything. But if it gets stuck or it’s too big, then we have to intervene,” says Dr. James Borden, who is a urologist on medical staff with Lee Memorial Health System.
While large kidney stones may require surgery, many people are getting relief in a shocking way.
“What you’re referring to is shockwave therapy and that is a machine; it forms an electrical shock. It’s not electricity, it’s actually an energy wave created by electrical shock,” says Dr. Borden.
Considered a non-invasive treatment the procedure is called lithotripsy. The lithotripter machine directs shock waves through the skin until they hit the kidney stones. Repeated waves crumble the stones into small pieces that can be passed through the urinary tract.
“We focus the energy to a very concentrated point. We put the patient in position on an x-ray table over where that high energy is. And that energy travels from the outside, it doesn’t hurt your skin, and it breaks the stone into smaller crystals that can then pass,” says Dr. Borden.
Performed with anesthesia on an outpatient basis, patients can resume normal activity in two or three days. This shocking procedure is giving patients with kidney stones welcome relief.
View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/
Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.