Lasers brought in at Doncaster Royal Infirmary to zap kidney stones

Mr Ravishankar (right) demonstrates the laser with Helen Woodrow, Lead Practitioner, Urology Theatres.
Mr Ravishankar (right) demonstrates the laser with Helen Woodrow, Lead Practitioner, Urology Theatres.

LASERS are being brought in by bosses at Doncaster Royal Infirmary - to zap painful kidney stones.

The hospital has brought in the high tech equipment to deal with what doctors say is a potentially painful condition without invasive surgery.

Kidney stones are relatively common, with men aged between 30 and 60 most likely to be affected.

They form when crystals of calcium, ammonia, uric acid or other natural products build up over time. Larger ones can cause severe pain and blockages and may need to be broken up or removed in hospital.

The new laser at the DRI delivers very short, intense pulses of infrared light that can break down any form of stone into tiny fragments that can be flushed out. Experts say it is less invasive than surgery, meaning patients recover more quickly and are less likely to experience complications.

The laser beam is delivered through a super-fine wire just 0.2 millimetres wide and flexible enough to rotate and reach stones of any size or location in the kidneys, kidney tubes or bladder.

That means it can be placed in direct contact with the stone, reducing the risk of any damage to surrounding tissue.

The procedure is performed under general anaesthetic and each treatment session lasts between 10 minutes and an hour.

Mr Kalleshachar Ravishankar, consultant urologist at the trust, who has been using the laser since January, said: “Laser lithotripsy has been around for a while but the advantage of this particular laser is that it’s flexible enough to reach any spot within the kidneys, bladder or related tubes and it is effective at breaking down any kind of stone.

“It works by heat energy and by creating an acoustic bubble that causes the stone to split and break down into tiny pieces. We can the flush out any fragments and send them off for analysis to see what is causing the stones, so we can advise patients on steps they can take to help prevent them in future.”

Doctors say the best way of avoiding kidney stones is by staying well hydrated with lots of non-alcoholic drinks. Water is the healthiest option.

Someone who has had kidney stones may be advised to make other changes to their diet, depending on whether the stones are caused by crystals of calcium, uric acid, ammonia or an amino acid called cystine.