Anyone who has had a kidney stone knows just how painful it can be. About 5 percent of women and 10 percent of men have a kidney stone once in a life time. Every day patients come through our emergency department who need treatment for the management of stones. The Dartmouth General provides tier 1 urology coverage within Capital Health. Being able to treat patients with the most up to date technique is paramount.
Lithotripsy, from the Greek meaning ‘stone crusher’, has revolutionized kidney stone treatment and the use of laser energy is uniquely suited to treat kidney stones safely and effectively. The Holmium laser is a standard piece of equipment in most Canadian hospitals. Acquiring it will be expensive, costing approximately $165,000; however it will enhance the level of care we are now able to provide to patients.
The doctor uses an endoscope (a tube introduced into the body, via the urinary tract) in order to get close to the stone. A small fiber is guided up the endoscope so that the tip (that emits the laser energy) can come in contact with the stone, the intense light energy breaks the stone into increasingly smaller pieces, which can be extracted or flushed out. Because of type of laser energy no other tissue is affected.