Pioneering new treatment means medics can remove kidney stones from patients in just one procedure

  • bhaskar somani
  • Doctors may soon be able to remove kidney stones in one procedure
  • Pioneering treatment aims to clear both organs during same operation
  • Involves viewing and positioning stones, before breaking up with laser
  • Traditionally, patients are forced to undergo two separate procedures
  • ‘We have chance to make people stone-free in one sitting,’ says surgeon
  • Study on 22 patients with kidney stones boasted 92 per cent success rate

Doctors may soon be able to remove kidney stones from patients in just one procedure following the development of pioneering new treatment.

The procedure, known as bilateral simultaneous ureteroscopy, aims to clear both kidneys at the same time, instead of during two separate operations.

It involves visualising and positioning stones with a ureteroscope, before using a laser beam to break them up.

Kidney stones, which affect around 10 to 15 per cent of men, compared to just 2 to 7 per cent of women, develop when crystals of salt accumulate into stone-like lumps and are not flushed out of the body.

WHAT ARE KIDNEY STONES?

Kidney stones, known as nephrolithiasis, develop in one or both of the kidneys when crystals of salt accumulate into hard stone-like lumps.

Small stones may be passed out in urine and even go undetected, but medium-sized or large stones might block part of the urinary system, such as the urethra.

If this happens, they can cause severe pain in the abdomen or groin, and may case a urinary tract infection.

Kidney stones are fairly common and are typically seen in people aged between 30 and 60.

They affect around 10 to 15 per cent of men, compared to just 2 to 7 per cent of women.

Source: NHS

They can lead to stone blockages in the urinary system and cause pain and recurrent urinary tract infections or sepsis.

Bhaskar Somani, consultant urological surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, is helping to develop the use of the technique to clear both organs at the same time.

‘Stone treatment no longer has to be carried out in a staged manner when we have a chance to make people stone-free in one sitting,’ he said.

‘Performing them separately means they have more hassle, more time off work and, logically, if both stones can be removed at the same time then why do it at different times and prolong discomfort for these patients.

‘The idea is to clear all stones in both kidneys at the same time rather than individually as patients then only have to undergo one procedure and, as a result, only one anaesthetic.

‘In particular, for patients with urinary tract infections who have stones in both kidneys, it is sensible to try and clear everything at once as you can’t be sure which side is causing the infection.’

He added: ‘Many surgeons may be fearful of attempting both sides due to the risk and worry of causing trauma to the kidneys.

‘But, with the right expertise, confidence and experience, the benefits of a single procedure far outweigh the risks of performing more work in a single session.’

Mr Somani said a recent study had seen the technique performed on 22 patients suffering from kidney stones – with a staggering 92 per cent success rate. 

More than three-quarters of patients were sent home the same day – with others suffering only minimal complications, comparable to those recorded following individual procedures.

‘Our data, which we believe is the first published and presented series in the UK, suggests this is a safe and effective technique with minor complications that are equivalent to individual procedures and can be used as standard treatment,’ said Mr Somani at a regional meeting of the British Association of Urological Surgeons.

 

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