More than half a million people go to emergency rooms for problems with kidney stones every year. Now, St. Joseph's Hospital in Highland offers a non-surgical procedure - lithotripsy - in its Surgical Services Department. Performed by Dr. Jeff Parres, Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) requires no incisions and crushes kidney stones inside the body with directed shock waves!
When kidney stones (crystal-like masses typically made of a hard salt compound called calcium oxalate) are too large to pass out of the body naturally, they can obstruct the normal urine flow and may cause sudden and severe pain. The most common treatment for kidney stones in the U.S., ESWL directly targets kidney stones with shock waves. As they absorb the energy, kidney stones are pulverized into sand-like particles that can bepassed easilythrough the urinary tract.
The patient and doctor will discuss whether light sedation and a local or general anesthesia will be used. The choice depends on the technique, type of stone, and patient needs. The main advantage of ESWL is that it treats kidney stones without an incision, so the need for hospital stays and recovery time are reduced.
When patients arrive in the operating room, they are positioned on an operating table with a soft, water-filled cushion placed on their abdomen or behind their kidney. The patient's body is positioned so that the stone can be targeted precisely with the shock waves. The complete treatment takes 45-60 minutes!
Barring any complications, patients usually remain in recovery for about an hour before being allowed to return home. Patients are asked to drink plenty of liquids, strain their urine through a filter to capture stone pieces for testing, and may be required to take antibiotics and painkillers during recovery, which is typically brief. After ESWL, patients can get up to walk almost immediately. Many can even resume their full daily activities within one to two days. Special diets are not required, but drinking plenty of water helps the stone fragments pass easily.
Dr. Parres sees patients in his clinic in the new SJH Medical Office Building (12866 Troxler Avenue, Highand). To schedule an appointment, call (618) 651-2750.