Ask anyone who has had kidney stones to describe what it feels like, and they’ll tell you the pain is intense. After three kidney stone recurrences, Robert Bass knows first hand.
“I woke up one morning, and it was just excruciating. And not only was it in the bottom of my back, it was also on my left side. We had to get to the hospital.”
X-rays revealed that Robert’s stones had been growing for awhile – one was the size of a silver dollar, and the other, the size of a quarter.
“Kidney stones are a collection of calcium in the kidney that can block the passage of urine and cause a lot of pain, and kidney failure,” says Dr. Jason Wynberg, urologist and director of the DMC Kidney Stone Center.
Diet is a big part of calcium in the urine for may patients. Too much salt in the diet can push calcium into the urine, and so for many patients, reducing salt is important.
But while diet is a factor, some people develop kidney stones as a result of genetic conditions. They’re most commonly seen in people aged 17 – 65, and Caucasians are more likely to get them than African-Americans.
Treatment includes two options. Sometimes, the stones will pass through the urine. Other times, if there are signs of infection, or kidney failure, or if the stones are too big to pass, surgery is necessary.
Ninety percent of the time, surgery is done be inserting surgical instruments through the body’s natural passages – the urethra, through the bladder, and up the ureters into the kidney. The other ten percent of the time, the stones are so large that a passage must be created through the back directly into the kidney.
Traditionally, patients require two procedures to remove the stones, but Dr. Wynberg and his team are performing a new procedure that’s only being done at Detroit Medical Center. It simplifies the process, making it easier for the physician and safer for the patient.
The procedures employs a lithocast, which uses an ultrasound wave to break the stone and attached suction then pulls out the pieces. Another benefit of the method is the reduction in radiation exposure – down by 90 percent.
Dr. Wynberg and his team are also concerned with helping patients prevent kidney stones from developing in the first place.
“At the DMC Kidney Stone Center, we have a nutritionist,” says Dr. Wynberg. “We perform 24-hour urine tests, blood tests, medical history. We spend a lot of time with each patient to try and figure out exactly why they are making stones. That allows us to tailor our recommendation to try and stop the stones from occurring.”
Robert gfelt the benefits of the surgery immediately – the difference was like night and day. He was up and walking a few hours after surgery, and after an overnight hospital stay, and few weeks of taking it easy, he was back to his normal activities.
“I was apprehensive about getting it done, but once you do, it’s a world of difference,” says Robert. “I would recommend it to anybody, even people that are timid about getting surgery, or afraid of doctors. Do it. Get it done. This is the best I’ve felt in a long time.”
To connect with Dr. Jason Wynberg at Detroit Medical Center, call 888-DMC-2500, or visit the DMC Harper University Hospital Kidney Stone Center.