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New lithotripter makes waves in urological care

Dr Hassan Razvi stands in front of lithotripter machine

Dr. Hassan Razvi prepares for lithotripsy treatment at St. Joseph's Hospital.

The first lithotripter of its kind in North America is helping urologists at St. Joseph’s Health Care London lead the way in pinpointing kidney stones with increased precision, leading to enhanced patient outcomes.

“This lithotripter’s improved image quality is enabling us to target kidney stones more precisely and monitor them more closely as they are breaking,” explains Dr. Hassan Razvi, Chair/Chief Division of Urology at St. Joseph’s and London Health Sciences Centre. 

Clearer images of the kidney stones ensure the lithotripsy treatment can be stopped as soon as the stone shatters, thus decreasing the length of treatment. If the image reveals the stone is not fragmenting as planned, the urologist can modify the treatment to attempt to enhance its success. 

“We perform about 1,000 lithotripsy procedures a year at St. Joseph’s Hospital, which is one of three hospitals in the province with a lithotripter,” says Dr. Razvi. “Offering state-of-the-art technology with this new lithotripter further strengthens our reputation as a centre of excellence for kidney stone treatments.”

A kidney stone forms when substances in urine crystallize in the kidneys.  When the stones begin forming they are tiny, but over time they may grow to be 5 cm or larger.  Stones less than 5 mm can easily exit the body through urine with little or no pain.  However, when stones are too large to pass on their own, lithotripsy is one of several treatment options available. 

With lithotripsy, a non-invasive treatment, the lithotripter generates electromagnetic shock waves that disintegrate the kidney stones into pieces as tiny as grains of sand, which can easily exit the body in urine. 

The new lithotripter, the most advanced on the continent, also offers an enhanced table so that in addition to lithotripsy it can be used for other urological procedures.

Funding for the lithotripter was provided entirely through donor support. It’s through a giving community that St. Joseph’s is able to purchase specialized medical equipment that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

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