In the word lithotripsy, litho mean stone and tripsy mean crushed. So, lithotripsy is a noninvasive medical procedure that is done to remove some types of kidney, gallbladder or ureter stones. The procedure involves crushing or breaking down of stones by shock waves or laser, so that their size becomes small. Subsequent to breaking, the small pieces of stones can exit from the body through urination.
What are stones?
Stones are hard masses that are generally formed due to crystallization of minerals and other substances. Most often the stones that are small in size exit from the body through urination. But the larger ones cannot exit on their own and may cause problems like pain, bleeding etc. or can even damage kidneys or urinary tract. In such a condition, they need treatment for their removal. Lithotripsy is one such treatment that breaks the larger stones into smaller pieces that can be easily removed from the body.
What stones can be removed by lithotripsy?
Lithotripsy is generally the choice of procedure when large stones block the flow of urine and cause problems. Following types of stones can be removed by lithotripsy:
- Kidney stones that cause pain or block urine
- Ureter stones blocking the ureter and causing pain
- Stones between 4 mm (0.16 in.) to 2 cm (0.8 in.) in diameter
What symptoms indicate the requirement of lithotripsy?
As most of the patients believe that their stones will exit the body on their own, it is important to know the symptoms that must not be ignored and indicate treatment requirement:
- Severe pain that makes the patient unable to sit still or find a comfortable position
- High fever with shivering
- Recurrent urinary tract infection
- Excessive nausea that is accompanied by vomiting
- Difficulty passing urine
- Blood in urine
Types of lithotripsy
Lithotripsy is of following two types:
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL): The meaning of extra corporeal is “from outside the body”, so in ESWL, shock waves are given from outside the body to crush the stones.
This type of lithotripsy is done by using shock waves to break down stones. A machine called a lithotripter is used by the surgeon during this procedure that facilitates direct sound waves at the stones. These sound waves are very strong but do not harm any surrounding part like bones, muscles or tissues. They only concentrate on the stones and break them into smaller pieces. It is a quick procedure that does not take more than 1 hour and is most often performed as an outpatient procedure and patient can go home the same day. After the procedure, patient passes stone or stone particles through urination for several days or weeks.
Laser lithotripsy: It is sometimes also termed as FURSL (flexible ureteroscopy and laser lithotripsy). An endoscope, a flexible tube with camera and light, is used in this procedure to treat stones in the ureter. Endoscope helps the doctor to clearly view the stones so that they can be broken down by using a laser. It is also a quick procedure and takes around 30 minutes, and is most often performed as an outpatient procedure and patient can go home the same day. After the procedure, patient passes stone or stone particles through urination for several days or weeks.
Before the procedure, patient is asked to remove all clothes and wear a gown. All the jewelry or other accessories are also removed, and patient is asked to relax and lie down on an exam table on top of a soft, water-filled cushion. Now anesthesia is given to the patient. Though the procedure can be performed under local anesthesia but most of the patients as well as surgeons prefer general anesthesia so that the procedure can go on smoothly and patient does not feel any pain.
After anesthesia, depending upon the type of lithotripsy i.e. ESWL or FURSL, high energy shock waves or laser are used to crush the stones into small pieces. If required, X-rays or ultrasound can be used to precisely locate the stone. About 1000 to 2000 shock waves are generally required to crush the stones. If the stones are of large size, stent is used. A stent is basically a small and flexible tube with a plastic mesh that can keep the ureter open to allow passage of stones without blocking the ureter.
Both the techniques are quick and effective in removing the stones. The complete treatment takes about 45 to 60 minutes depending upon the size and number of stones.
Advantages of Lithotripsy
- Noninvasive treatment for stones
- Usually performed as an outpatient procedure and no night stay is required in the hospital
- Reduced recovery time
- Less chances of complications
Results of Lithotripsy
Lithotripsy is a very effective and quick procedure that gives immediate relief to the patient suffering from pain due to stones. It can usually remove all the stones completely. After almost 3 months, 50-75% of patients are found to be free of stones with highest success rates in patients with smaller stones (such as less than 1 cm). But sometimes, large stones are not broken completely by the procedure or big pieces still remain in the kidney. In such cases, additional treatments may be needed. Though it is a good treatment for most of the people suffering from stones, but there are chances that stones can return and furthermore treatment will be required.
- Patient is kept in the post-operative room for few hours after the procedure to monitor his vitals and keep a check on any complication or blockage.
- Patient is encouraged to walk after few hours of rest
- Soon after the procedure, patient is given antibiotics and painkillers to avoid infection and pain
- Patient can resume all his daily activities within one to two days after the procedure but strenuous activities like weight lifting should be avoided for few weeks
- Patient can experience some blood in the urine and may also have abdominal pain or cramping for several days after the procedure that can be relieved by pain killers
- Patient is advised to drink plenty of liquids especially water, coconut water etc to flush out any remaining stones through urination
- The urine of patient should be strained through a filter so that stone pieces can be captured and sent for further testing
Why MedTours Global?
- We are associated with the best hospitals globally having the emergency infrastructure, fully equipped with the latest technologies and techniques to overcome from every emergency condition.
- Our team of doctors are highly experienced in ‘Emergency Patient Management’ and work together to save the patient.
- Consultation from doctors through e-mail, phone, and video calling.
- Rehabilitation programs are organized to assist complex surgery patients.
- Complete support and assistance being given before and after treatment.
- Cost of treatment is quite less as compared to other service providers.
- We are always ready to offer our helping hand and our services are available Free of Cost 24/7.