Bradford Teaching hospitals has unveiled a new £400,000 machine to destroy kidney stones without surgery The machine will mean that urology patients – who come from as far away as Settle and Skipton to seek treatment at Bradford Royal Infirmary – will avoid operations.
Consultant urologist James Forster said: “The introduction of our new lithotripter machine to Ward 14 means a quicker, more efficient service for patients.
“They will be able to come into hospital, have their procedure, and return home on the same day.
“The lithotripter’s benefits include less risk to the patient – as they avoid the need for keyhole or endoscopic surgery and anaesthetic – the procedure is less invasive, hospital stays are reduced, and patients don’t need to take time off work to recover from their operation.
Patients also benefit from lower post-procedure pain thanks to this innovative, new technology.”
Around 450 patients a year will be treated on the new machine which works by getting the patient to lie face-up on a water bed.
An ultrasound probe is then positioned underneath the table and pressed firmly against the back.
Shock waves are then delivered to the stone at the rate of two per second.
The treatment lasts 30 to 40 minutes and delivers 3,000 shock waves, which pass through the body to break the stone into fragments. These then pass out of the body in urine.
The new lithotripter machine can also be used to treat stones in other organs, such as the ureter - the tube that links the kidney with the bladder.
Kidney stones are collections of solid minerals that sometimes form in the kidneys and between ten and 15 per cent of the population will get a stone in their lifetime.
Stones can be caused by a combination of poor hydration, diet, obesity, occasionally they can be genetic and sometimes they appear randomly in patients.
Mr Forster said: “Very small stones can be safely treated with observation and lifestyle changes, however significant stones should be treated seriously as they can cause major complications.
“If left untreated, some stones can lead to kidney failure, loss of kidneys and even septicaemia.
“Their incidence is increasing in Bradford, as it is around the country, and they can be incredibly painful for patients.
“We now see more than a thousand patients a year with the condition here at the hospital.
“I would advise people to keep themselves well hydrated and be careful about what they eat in order to avoid the conditions where stones can develop and flourish.”
The new lithotripter machine, from manufacturers Storz Medical, replaces an older version of the model which has been in operation for around ten years.