Lithotripsy is a procedure that has been in the making for many years. It consists of the fracture of kidney stones through certain techniques to achieve the elimination of stones that exceed 0.5 cm, which can no longer be dissolved or expelled naturally.
Lithia is a fairly common pathology, especially in men. The main symptoms are the famous renal colic, difficulty urinating and tiredness. For these cases, extracorporeal lithotripsy is currently being widely used as a treatment to solve the condition.
Stones in the kidney or ureter bring many complications to those who suffer from them, but above all the pain of renal colic bothers a lot. These colic occur when the stones or some particles of them break off and try to come out through the urinary tract; causing in turn injuries that often lead to multiple urinary tract infections. In addition, the intensity of colic is compared to labor contractions, because of how strong they can be.
Having stones in the kidney is such a delicate issue that if they are not treated on time and properly, it can lose drive, until the organ is completely lost. So, that’s where lithotripsy becomes one of the most recommended treatments for kidney stone patients today.
It is proven that the main cause of the formation of kidney stones is the lack of water in the body. When the kidney dehydrates, the minerals are concentrated in it and solidify. Among the substances that inhibit the formation of stones in the kidney is potassium citrate, which is why if a person has potassium deficiency they are also prone to forming stones, even if they maintain adequate hydration.
Instructions for a lithotripsy
To diagnose lithiasis it is important to review the symptoms. If the patient has recurrent urinary tract infections and back pain, the stones are probably still located in the kidney; but if you have renal colic, the stones are located in the ureter. Also, if the patient does not get a good emptying of the bladder when urinating and a lot of urgency to urinate, it is possible that the stones are lodged in the bladder. All this is confirmed with an echo graphic study or fundus ultrasound to complete the diagnosis.
Invasive approaches are already being discarded by modern doctors. Lithotripsy can be extracorporeal or extracorporeal. Extracorporeal lithotripsy consists of manipulating a laser to destroy stones inside the kidney or ureter, using a ureter scope (a tiny camera inserted through the urethra) as a support. This procedure is the most effective, because it manages to quickly and safely remove the stones without the need to make cuts.
This technique lasts approximately one hour; the patient will be under sedation during the procedure and a kidney drain will be placed so that all the stone fragments that are destroyed in the process come out.
In the case of extracorporeal lithotripsy, the patient will not need to enter an operating room thanks to the electromagnetic technology of modern machines. This technique manages to achieve 80% of the fragmentation of kidney stones for their subsequent elimination.
Some of the characteristics of the kidney stone that are studied before doing a lithotripsy are the size and hardness; but fragmentation is almost always achieved satisfactorily. Best of all, anesthesia is not needed for the procedure, only an analgesic and an anti-inflammatory; in more delicate cases, an opioid.
Through the C-arc, a radiographic technology, the doctor locates the stone: if it is in the kidney or in the ureter. Next, they apply a few small taps with shock wave energy that last approximately 45 minutes or an hour, depending on the size and quantity of the stones.
On the other hand, depending on the number, size, location and hardness of the stones, extracorporeal lithotripsy may need several sessions. If the stones are in the kidney, the sessions will be shorter, since as it is a highly irrigated organ, it cannot be hit as much as if the stones were in the ureter.
What do you need for a lithotripsy?
These techniques have as main objective to prevent hydronephrosis of the kidney, avoiding the operation. When the kidney does not have enough liquid, it will crystallize the minerals it has due to lack of inhibitors; for which the hydration of the patient is fundamental for the expulsion of the fragmented stones in the procedure.
Subsequent control of the patient’s progress is performed by ultrasound and radiology. Always evaluating the evolution and the possible effects that the radiation of the lithiasis may cause in the patient, although the radiation received is actually very low.
Tips for a lithotripsy
Finally, it is important to know that the treatment of kidney stones does not end with lithotripsy; since it has been shown that people, who have formed kidney stones, after being removed, will form them again every 10 years if they do not have medical follow-up and a change in diet and body hydration.
If the causes of the calculations are not concentrated only in the patient’s diet, but rather he/she has a hereditary predisposition; the most advisable thing is to recurrently do a stone metabolic profile, to prescribe some inhibitor of stone formation such as potassium citrate or diuretics.