It is estimated that over half a million people will go to the emergency room for kidney stone problems and roughly ten percent of people will have a kidney stone at some time in their lives. Kidney stones grow when minerals and salts in urine crystalize and form stones. Usually, the chemicals that cause kidney stones are processed by the kidney and washed out of the body through urine, but sometimes the concentration is high enough that hard stones form. Kidney stones can be as small as a grain of sand and as large as a pebble and can cause an array of symptoms. Though more often found in adults, kidney stones are found in children as young as five.
Kidney stones cause pain when they get large enough to cause irritation and can even cause blockage. Common symptoms of kidney stones include severe pain on either side of the lower back, a vague pain or stomach ache that won’t go away, bloody urine, nausea, vomiting, fever, and urine that smells pungent or looks cloudy.
While there is no single cause for kidney stones there are a few lifestyle choices that may impact whether stones develop. Not drinking enough water, consuming high amounts of salt, eating meat-heavy diets, and genetics may all be important factors as to whether you may develop kidney stones. The body usually processes and flushes smaller stones without needing medical intervention, but the process is painful. Luckily there are some fantastic non-invasive solutions that break up the size of the stones, and we have access to this technology right here in Taos.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is a process that breaks up kidney stones without needing surgery. High energy shockwaves are focused on kidney stones and the process breaks up the stones into small pieces that will pass naturally through urine. The non-invasive lithotripsy treatment usually takes less than an hour and most patients can return home within hours of the procedure.
Dr. Stephen Lucero is a urologist at Holy Cross Surgical Specialties and has over 35 years of experience in the medical field of urology. Dr. Lucero graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and joined the Holy Cross Medical Center team in 2017. While Stephen offers many general urology services, one of his major projects was bringing a lithotripsy machine to Taos.
“It’s not common for a rural community this size to have access to a state-of-the-art non-invasive lithotripsy machine, so it’s impressive that we have one right here in Taos.” Says Dr. Lucero.
Lithotripsy causes less pain than many other treatments, offers a shorter treatment time, reduces follow-up procedures, is effective for children and adults, and is available at Holy Cross Hospital. You don’t need to leave Taos for great care. If you ever have the unfortunate development of kidney stones, you have access to non-invasive treatment right here in Taos.
For more information about lithotripsy and other urology services call our Surgical Specialties office at (575) 758-3141.