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Trial to test using ultrasound to move kidney stones
Date:1/10/2014

lower back (technically called inversion and percussion). Those methods try to jiggle small stones from the lower part of the kidney, where they have only a 35 percent chance of passing naturally, to the middle of the kidney, where they have an 80 percent chance of passing without treatment.

The UW team proposes a gentler, more targeted way to guide the stones toward the exit route.

The prototype is a commercial ultrasound system modified to emit pulses only slightly stronger than those used for pregnancy imaging. These sustained, low-intensity waves are just enough to push the crystal through the surrounding fluid.

In the lab, Barbrina Dunmire, an engineer at the Applied Physics Laboratory who helped build the device, points an ultrasound probe at a stone inside a latex kidney. She activates the ultrasonic pulse and the stone immediately swings away through the clear liquid. A doctor would put the probe on a patient's lower back, then use an onscreen ultrasound image to locate the stone and direct the ultrasonic pulse.

Urologists and urology residents at UW Medicine tested three successive prototypes on artificial kidneys and pigs, and helped to design the touchscreen user interface.

"We've had extensive testing in an animal model," said Dr. Jonathan Harper, an assistant professor of urology at UW Medicine. "If it acts in the same way in a human kidney, I think it's extremely promising."

The current Seattle trial is the first time the system is being tested on humans.

Besides guiding kidney stones to help them pass naturally, other applications could be to reposition a stone before or during surgery; to displace a large stone obstructing the ureter to relieve the patient's pain and avoid emergency surgery; and perhaps someday to escort small stones right down the ureter.

If clinical trials go well, researchers believe the device could be used in an urologist's office or by trained emergency room staff, potentially saving hund
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Contact: Hannah Hickey
hickeyh@uw.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

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