Using burst wave lithotripsy (BWL), researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle discovered that it can shatter kidney stones into small enough fragments so that they can be passed effortlessly.
It simply takes ten minutes and could help people avoid the additional kidney stone therapies that Americans, particularly men, are now using.
As the solid object must travel and transit through the urinary canal to pass naturally, passing a kidney stone can be quite painful.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Urology on Tuesday, involved 19 people, all of whom had kidney stones.
Bursts of sound are used in the BWL method to target the kidney stone and break it up into smaller pieces.
It is a lot less invasive and resource-intensive procedure than surgery, and it is far less unpleasant than trying to pass the stone spontaneously.
The 19 individuals had a total of 25 kidney stones between them. For fifteen minutes, each was given BWL.
The treatment was able to break 90% of the stones, and it completely broke 40% of them down to pieces.
The sound waves fractured just over half of the stones at least somewhat.
The leftover bits of the stones were small enough for the patients to pass through with little pain.
Researchers observed no significant side effects and just minor tissue damage in the patients who had the treatment after a post-mortem examination.
The treatment, if widely adopted, might be a gamechanger in treating a condition that affects much more Americans than many people realize.
According to researchers, over 10% of Americans suffer from a kidney stone each year, costing the nation’s economy around $10 billion every year.
Kidney stones develop when mineral deposits build in a person’s organ and harden over time.
To get rid of it, the body must pass it, but this can be a painful and exhausting process.
The people who are most at risk are those who are overweight or obese, do not drink enough water on a daily basis, or make poor nutritional choices.
When a stone is too big to pass naturally, it can cause a lot of pain and necessitate surgery.
Researchers anticipate that their findings “are a step toward an office-based lithotripsy for awake patients,” as the treatment can prevent the need for anesthesia and more serious treatments, they wrote in a statement.
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