With Burst Wave Lithotripsy Doctors Can Now Break Kidney Stones in 10 Minutes

Researchers have developed a new technique called “Burst Wave Lithotripsy” to quickly break down kidney stones. This method could be an effective, less invasive, and more affordable alternative for patients.

Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones Credit: BruceBlaus

Kidney stones affect about 10% of the population in the US. The main causes of kidney stones are insufficient hydration, excess salt and animal protein, and lack of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.

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They are formed in the kidneys and are of varying sizes formed by mineral salts that accumulate in these vital organs.

These can migrate into the urinary tract and be excreted naturally in the urine. But sometimes the stones get stuck and block the passage of urine, which can cause kidney pain, sudden and intense pain in the lower back and abdomen.  50% of patients have another attack within five years.

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Burst Wave Lithotripsy, the new technique for treating kidney stones

To improve the treatment of kidney stones, researchers at the University of Washington have developed Burst Wave Lithotripsy a new method to remove them quickly. This new technique uses ultrasound to destroy the stones without anesthesia. To confirm the effectiveness of this device, the researchers conducted a study, the results of which were published in The Journal of Urology on March 21.

For their work, the researchers recruited 19 people who were suffering from kidney stones. The patients had to undergo a ureteroscopy. Prior to this examination of the upper urinary tract, the volunteers used Burst Wave Lithotripsy. “Up to three stones per subject were targeted, each lasting up to 10 minutes,” say the authors. Using the ureteroscope, they were able to directly observe the effectiveness of ultrasound in destroying the stones.

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Kidney stones destroyed in 10 minutes

Overall, a median of 90% of the stone volume was completely destroyed, and 21 of the 23 (91%) stones were fragmented. Fragmentation within 10 minutes of Burst Wave Lithotripsy occurred in 9 of the 23 stones. “Among the six least fragmented stones, the likely factors for reduced efficiency were stones larger than the beam width or smaller than the wavelength,” the study says.

“The ability to noninvasively destroy stones and remove fragments in patients during their first visit to the emergency department or clinic may provide timely treatment and reduce the pain, cost, and resources associated with stone formation,” the researchers concluded in a statement.

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Fragmentation of Stones by Burst Wave Lithotripsy in the First 19 Humans


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