Pulverizing Kidney Stones

Painful kidney stones can really slow you down. Fortunately, there’s a new treatment that can eliminate your pain quickly and have you back on your feet in no time—without spending a night in the hospital. Fairview Northland Medical Center offers this non-surgical solution known as lithotripsy, a procedure that breaks up kidney stones.

Michael Tran, MD, a urologist with Fairview Clinics – Elk River, now performs lithotripsy at Fairview Northland Medical Center. Following is a Q&A with Dr. Tran about this innovative treatment.

What is lithotripsy?

Lithotripsy is a medical procedure that uses high energy shock waves to break up stones in the kidney and/or bladder into pieces as small as grains of sand, which can then pass from the body along with the urine.
Michael Tran, MD
A kidney stone is like a small rock that forms in the kidney when certain chemicals in the body clump together. It can either stay in the kidney or travel through the urinary tract. If it’s too large to pass on its own, or causes extreme pain, lithotripsy can help.

How is this procedure performed?

The procedure is performed in an operating room, and patients are usually given general anesthesia, which means they’re asleep (it’s important that they lie as still as possible during the procedure) and pain-free. Patients lie on top of a soft cushion while approximately 2,400 shock waves pass through the body until they hit the kidney stones. The procedure takes 45 minutes to an hour to complete. Patients are up and moving shortly after the procedure. A special diet is not required, but drinking plenty of water helps the stone fragments pass, which can take up to eight weeks.

What are the advantages of this treatment?

The main advantage of this treatment is that it allows patients to be treated without surgery, which means they experience a faster recovery and lower risk of complication, and avoid a hospital stay. This procedure is also less expensive than surgery. Unfortunately, however, not all types of kidney stones can be treated with lithotripsy. The size, number, location and composition of the stones are factors that must be taken into account when exploring treatment options. I work with each patient to determine the best treatment for them.

What to do if you have kidney stones

If you have a history of kidney stones, be sure to talk with your health care provider to determine what kind of stone you have, how to prevent future stones and explore treatment options. To make an appointment with Dr. Tran, call 763-241-5800.

Related articles

Understanding kidney stones
Preventing kidney stones

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