Shock-Wave Lithotripter Comes to LFH

Blast Away Kidney and Ureteral Stones

For patients suffering from painful kidney and ureteral stones, Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital’s lithotripsy and cytoscope room is a welcome source of relief. Equipped with a Storz lithotripter that blasts kidney and ureteral stones with shock waves, the lithotripter is a state-of-the-art machine with sophisticated imaging (fluoroscopy) that directs the doctor to the stone during surgery.

“In the past, Lake County patients used to have to travel a long way for such a procedure,” said Dennis Pessis, M.D., urologist. “Now that we offer the shock-wave lithotripsy procedure at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, patients feel more comfortable knowing they can be treated close to home at their local hospital where they were diagnosed.”


How does the Shock-Wave Lithotripter work?

The patient is put under general anesthesia and lies flat, which is important because the “exactness of the machine is its essence.” The lithotripter emits a pulse-like energy that goes through an interface of water. This process causes the stone fragments to dislodge and break into smaller pieces that are passed later by the patient.

According to Dr. Pessis, an advantage of this type of machine is that the patient experiences minimal pain—because the stones are so much smaller when they are passed—and minimal bruising in the abdomen and back area.

Follow-up takes place about a month after the procedure when an X-ray is taken to see how effective the therapy has been. Most patients with a history of stones should expect to be stone-free for at least seven years if they also follow the customized diet plan that their urologist can prescribe.

“People who live in the Midwest region have an above-average frequency for developing stones and men are slightly more likely to form them than women,” says Dr. Pessis.

“Stones can develop for a variety of reasons including genetics, overactive parathyroid glands, some bowel problems and high uric acid levels (gout). We test everyone’s urine to determine exactly what is causing the stone formation. Once we have the urine’s chemical makeup, we can prescribe a customized diet that often helps to prevent the formation of future stones.”

Candidates for the lithotripter include anyone who has kidney stones or ureter stones at any age, unless that person is on blood thinners.