(Editor’s note: In recognition of National Kidney Month, Sampson Regional Medical Center is providing readers with information on kidney stones. This is the second of two.)
More than half a million people each year report to the emergency room for kidney stone problems, and it’s suggested that one in ten people will have a kidney stone at some time in their life, usually between the ages of 20-49. Kidney stones can be very painful, often compared to the pain women experience during childbirth. Sufferers can find relief for painful kidney stones through a non-invasive treatment offered at Sampson Regional Medical Center.
The treatment is lithotripsy, “a non-surgical alternative to traditional surgical removal of kidney stones,” said Dr. Robert Reagan, a urologist with Sampson Regional Medical Center. “It is an outpatient procedure, so most patients can resume normal daily activities within a few days. Lithotripsy can also be performed at our local hospital, so patients do not have the inconvenience of traveling out of town.”
Kidney stones form when there is an increase of stone-forming substances such as calcium and a decrease in urine which flushes the kidneys and urinary bladder. These substances develop into stones that can be as small as sand crystals or as large as a golf ball. Symptoms can range from blood in the urine, pain while urinating, tenderness in the back and abdominal area to nausea, vomiting, and even extreme pain in the case of a larger stone.
Aside from pain and discomfort, kidney stones usually don’t cause permanent damage. Often, kidney stones can pass over time with drinking plenty of water. For stones that are too large to pass through the urinary tract, a non-invasive procedure called Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) can break up stones to pass through the urinary tract.
“The Siemens MODULARIS® Variostar lithotripsy unit used at Sampson Regional Medical Center pinpoints the exact location of kidney stones and breaks them up using high-energy shock waves,” said Dr. Reagan. “Kidney stones are broken up into smaller pieces that can then pass through in the urine.”
For more information about lithotripsy or other treatment of kidney stones at Sampson Regional Medical Center, contact Carolina Urology Healthcare at 910-596-3569.