If you've ever had a kidney stone, you know the symptoms. That severe, sharp, cramping pain in your lower back or side, just below your rib cage, that can spread down even to your groin area; the nausea and vomiting; the frequent, painful urination; sometimes even blood in your urine. You also know that you're at risk for more kidney stones in the future.
If you've never had a kidney stone, you already know from those symptoms that you hope you never get one! But if you do, there are treatments that can bring relief.
Kidney stones are made of minerals and chemicals in your urine that can build up in your kidneys, where urine is created. The stones may grow large enough to become wedged in your ureters—the small tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder. That's what causes the symptoms.
Who's likely to get kidney stones?
Although just about anyone can get kidney stones, they are most common among: Caucasians, men, people between 20-40, people with a family history of kidney stones, people who have frequent urinary tract infections or kidney disorders, and people who have previously had kidney stones.
How do you get rid of kidney stones?
If the stones are small, a urologist (a doctor who specializes in urinary and kidney health) may recommend that you wait until they pass naturally (if painfully!) in your urine. Drinking 2-3 quarts of water a day may speed the process.
If the stone does not pass, more aggressive treatment may be required. Options include medications, removing the stone through an instrument inserted into the urinary tract (anesthesia is used), minimally invasive surgery (inserting a telescopic instrument into the kidney through a small puncture), standard open surgery (with a large incision), and lithotripsy.
"Lithotripsy allows physicians to break up kidney stones without any incision — in fact, without entering the body in any way," explains Nicholas Viner, MD, Bridgeport Hospital's chief of Urology.
Lithotripsy is a non-surgical (no cutting) procedure. It uses high-energy sonic (sound) waves, guided by X-ray pictures, to break up kidney stones into sand-like particles. (Litho=stone; tripsy=crush.) Since the human body is made up largely of water, the sonic waves can pass right through body tissues, affecting only the targeted stones. In the days following the treatment, the small particles pass out of your body in your urine, with little pain.
Among the advantages of lithotripsy: It's an outpatient procedure — no hospital stay required. There is little discomfort from the procedure itself, which is done while you are under intravenous sedation (medication to make you relax). Because there is no incision, there are no stitches, and the recovery time is much shorter than with surgery.
For a brochure about lithotripsy call 888-357-2396.
Call Bridgeport Hospital Physician/Services Referral at 888-357-2396 or visit http://www.bridgeporthospital.org/findphy for the names of urologists in your community who are experienced in performing lithotripsy.