Kidney stones can be destroyed with a new non-surgical device with sound waves

(ORDO NEWS) — An article published in the Journal of Urology reports the first 19 people treated with a new non-invasive method designed to break up kidney stones using sound waves.

The technique, called burst wave lithotripsy (BWL), has successfully crushed most kidney stones, promising a non surgical treatment option for patients with this common condition.

Up to 15 percent of people will experience kidney stones at some point in their lives. Many cases of small stones are known to resolve spontaneously and without intervention, but some patients require surgery to avoid permanent kidney damage.

For decades, surgeons have used sound waves to break up kidney stones in a technique called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). This method involves high intensity acoustic pulses and usually requires patients to be sedated or even anesthetized.

This new technique differs from ESWL in that it can be applied in a more informal setting with a portable device and without sedation. Shock wave lithotripsy uses short, cyclic pulses of ultrasonic energy to break kidney stones into fragments of 2 mm or less.

The new study is the largest published report on the effectiveness of a new method in patients. The study included 19 patients who underwent clinical ureteroscopy for kidney stones.

BWL was administered during a surgical procedure with up to three large stones (≤12 mm) given to each patient for approximately 10 minutes per stone.

Overall, the study found that 90 percent of the total volume of stones was fragmented, with 39 percent of the stones completely shattered into pieces smaller than 2 mm, and partial fragmentation was observed in 52 percent of the stones.

Most of the stone fragments left after BWL treatment should pass naturally without further medical intervention, the researchers said. It has also been found that treatment with BVL causes only mild and repairable damage to peripheral tissues.

Before widespread use in clinics, BVL still needs additional research. Optimal treatments need to be explored, and the ultimate goal is to develop a treatment that can be rapidly implemented in the office setting when a patient presents with kidney stones for the first time.

“The ability to non-invasively crush stones and remove fragments in awake patients at the first visit to the RD or clinic has the potential to provide timely treatment, leading to a reduction in the overall pain, costs and resource burden associated with stone formation,” the researchers concluded in their study.

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