(09/24/13) - A new non-invasive treatment that safely wipe out kidney stones, even in extreme cases. One in ten Americans will suffer a kidney stones at some point, and about a million will have a stone this year. Most will pass on their own, but larger kidney stones can be life-threatening.
A sudden slip out of the shower one morning saved Stacy Cassell's life, "if I wouldn't have fallen, we may never have found them."
Back pain from the fall sent her to the emergency room, but doctors found something much more serious, Staghorn kidney stones. The stones were so big, they nearly filled both kidneys.
Stacy says her doctor told her she came in the nick of time, "he's like, you know, 'if we didn't find these, you could have been dead by the end of the year.'"
"So we're talking about a stone that's, maybe, about the size of the palm of my hand," says Dr. Julio Davalos, a urologist.
Dr. Davalos says our bodies naturally flush out most kidney stones, but once they reach about the size of a raisin they become hard to pass, "so size matters when it comes to stones."
Stacy's were so large, surgery was her only option. Dr. Davalos used a new laser, called Lumenis Versapulse, on Stacy's stones.
The procedure helped her pass the stones on her own, lowering her risk of complications, according to Davalos, "I'm able to fragment the stone into minute pieces of grain, grains of sand and they can just sort of pass that out of the kidney."
Since a special type of laser energy setting is used, there's a better chance that no other tissue is affected.
"I've had no trouble since then," says Stacy, who is glad to have a second chance with her son.
Stacy's doctor told her she most likely got the stones because she was not keeping herself well hydrated. The laser treatment can be used in advanced cases like Stacy's or for smaller stones. Patients usually need general anesthesia, but can go home the same day.
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