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The New Stone Age: Patients across Devon and Cornwall to benefit from Fixed site lithotripter

A new machine for treating renal and ureteric stones, based at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth will benefit patents across Devon and Cornwall. The first of its kind, the new fixed site lithotripter supports outpatient procedures for complex stones, revolutionising how stones are treated across the Southwest.

Lithotripsy is a technique for treating stones in the kidney and ureter that does not require surgery. Instead, high energy shock waves which are applied via the skin, pass through the body and break the stones into pieces as small as grains of sand. Because of their small size, these pieces can pass from the body along with the urine.

Consultant Urologist at University Hospitals Plymouth, Richard Pearcy said: “Lithotripsy has been around for a number of years, however the original models required a water bath and for the patient to be under general anaesthetic. Subsequent models were made mobile and were much lighter and easier to use, but that was a trade off with less effectivity in stone break up. The latest machine doesn’t require general anaesthetic, just ordinary pain relief but has good effectiveness in breaking the stone.”

The fixed site lithotripter now delivers treatment five days a week. 41 patients have been treated during the first six weeks, including the treatment of 45 stones, of which 19 stones have completely passed or only have small fragments remaining.

“The intention for the machine based at is for it to be made fully available to other hospitals throughout the Southwest of England,” said Richard. “This should reduce the ureteroscopy rate across these hospitals, simplifying the treatment of stones and resulting in fewer patients being admitted to hospital for acute care.”

Patient, Muhedin Marraqu, who has just completed his course of treatment said: “As soon as I was done I was back to normal. As long as you drink plenty of fluids you don’t have any pain.”

Chief Executive Ann James said:  “This fantastic team have worked tirelessly across the Peninsula to develop this service, making a real difference to patients.”

The machine delivers very effective treatment whilst avoiding the need for a general anaesthetic. Having a fixed site lithotripter available means improvement in timeliness for the procedure and clinical outcomes for patients.

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