Sutton Hospital invests in shockwave technology to treat kidney stones

20 March 2013

 Sutton Hospital in Surrey, UK, has invested £450,000 in a state-of-the-art lithotriptor machine to treat patients suffering from kidney stones.

The device uses shockwave technology to break apart the stones until they are small enough for a patient to pass in their urine. This avoids the use of invasive surgery or general anaesthetic.

Dr Martin Stockwell, Joint Medical Director, said: "We are absolutely delighted with our new lithotriptor machine. This specialist equipment offers our patients the very best in the treatment of kidney stones, and is already making a very real difference to the lives of the people we treat. The lithotriptor is 'patient-friendly' in that it avoids unnecessary surgery, minimises the pain felt by patients and allows them to return to normal life a lot quicker."

The department's most senior radiographer, Liz Eversden explained: "The job of the kidneys is to remove waste products from the blood and pass what the body doesn't need out through urine. Occasionally, crystal-like deposits form kidney stones from the waste products, which your body will try to pass in urine. This can be extremely painful.

"This new piece of equipment allows us to precisely locate the stones within the kidney using state-of-the-art X-ray and ultrasound technology. We can then aim the shockwaves directly at the stones, breaking them up effectively and efficiently. And, because we don't need to use invasive techniques such as surgery, our patients do not need an anaesthetic and are usually out of hospital within a couple of hours of their procedure."

The lithotriptor department at Sutton Hospital, which first opened its doors in 1998, is the only one of its kind in the area, and looks after not only local patients but also those from Redhill, Croydon and Kingston, currently performs over 1,000 treatments every year.

One patient who has completed her treatment in the department  said: "I had no idea I had kidney stones, and had absolutely no symptoms until one night, from nowhere, I was suddenly in agony. I was doubled over in pain. Honestly, it was worse than child birth. At first, we thought it was appendicitis and I was rushed to my local A&E in East Surrey. They did a scan and found that I had three kidney stones.

"From there, I was referred to Sutton Hospital and I've just finished my second round of treatment here. I am just so relieved the team have been able to treat me so quickly."

The new machine was funded by the Trust's annual capital development plan, which funds approximately £10 million of improvements across our hospitals each year.


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