“Unfortunately I’m a stone-producer,” says Chris Glenz, kidney stone patient.
For the past 20 years Glenz has battled a painful condition. His body is constantly making kidney stones. At least once a year, he’s at the doctors.
“Oh yeah it’s excruciating. It’s probably the worst pain. It can be really sharp; you have flank-like cramping and stuff. Then as the stones move it makes you nauseous,” says Glenz.
Kidney stones become a problem when they start to move through your system from the kidney to the bladder.
“If it’s small enough it may pass all the way down into the bladder. If someone is comfortable enough we can give them pain medication and a little bit of time and if it’s a small stone it could pass all the way through- then we don’t have to do anything. But if it gets stuck or it’s too big, then we have to intervene,” says Dr. James Borden, urologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
Most patients would like to avoid surgery, so they choose another option, including a shocking one. Called ‘lithotripsy’, it uses high-energy shock waves to break up the stones through your skin.
“It’s actually an energy wave created by electrical shock that penetrates. We focus the energy to a very concentrated point. We put the patient in position on an x-ray table, and that energy travels from the outside. It doesn’t hurt your skin, it travels to that point where the stone is and it breaks the stone into smaller crystals that can then pass,” says Dr. Borden.
Lithotripsy is performed under anesthesia, and works best when stones are closer to the kidney. Over the years, Glenz tried everything, including surgery, but finds lithotripsy passes the pain test.
“I much prefer that because there’s nothing invasive. So you just have some side pain and then you might pass some fragments and stuff like that but the pain is gone,” says Glenz.
“The beauty of it is, it’s outpatient and other then some discomfort from the procedure which is more of an ache it’s usually pretty pain free,” says Dr. Borden.The procedure may have a shocking element, but the results are comfortably predictable.