What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones have become a very common condition in today’s population due to improper dietary habits and stressful lifestyle. They are more common in men aged between 30-60 years as compared to women and occur due to less water intake, high protein diet, high calcium diet, obesity or heredity. Stones are formed due to aggregation of certain minerals especially calcium and uric acid found in our food. These crystalline aggregations can occur in kidney (Renal Calculus), ureter or bladder.
Normally the stones smaller than 3 millimeter diameter are flushed out along with the urine but if they are larger in size they tend to settle down in the kidney or ureters and cause symptoms like pain in the flank or groin, nausea, vomiting, blood in urine, fever, renal colic etc. Painful kidney stones need to be removed or crushed using various techniques.
Laser Lithotripsy or removal of kidney stones using LASER energy is an advanced treatment procedure that is non-invasive. The new Holmium: YAG laser is used which delivers very short, intense pulses of infrared light that can break down any form of stone, no matter what kind, into tiny fragments that can be flushed out or excreted in urine. It’s less invasive than surgery, which means patients recover more quickly and are less likely to experience complications.
The clinician inserts a thin tube with a tiny camera into the patient via the urethra, the passage that allows urine to leave the body, and ureter. This is known as a ureteroscope. The camera helps the clinician guide the laser wire inside the tube and into place until it gets to the stone. Pulses of laser energy, each lasting less than 0.0003 seconds, then break the stone down.
The laser beam is delivered through a super-fine wire just 0.2 millimeters wide (200 micrometers) and flexible enough to rotate and reach stones of any size or location in the kidneys, kidney tubes or bladder. That means it can be placed in direct contact with the stone, reducing the risk of any damage to surrounding tissue.
The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and each treatment session lasts between 10 minutes and an hour, depending on the size and number of stones being broken down. Although most patients currently stay in hospital overnight, before long they will be able to go home the same day. A repeat X-ray is done after the procedure to check whether all stones have been removed.
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