New Technology Means Better Treatment

Urinary stone disease is quite common in animal patients, and traditionally, invasive surgery has been the recommended treatment for removing the stones. Now, patients at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) will have another treatment option: a recently acquired a laser lithotripsy device to treat urinary stones, which is currently being used in female dogs and cats. With lithotripsy, a laser fiber is passed through a cystoscope; then, with a push of a button, energy is transmitted that will disintegrate or fragment the stone. The fragments can then be removed or left to pass through the urinary system on their own. The procedure, depending on the size of the stone, may take from 30 to 90 minutes.

"We are very excited to have this instrument, which will provide an alternative treatment for patients whose owners would prefer they not undergo invasive surgery," said Professor Dennis Chew, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM, whose special interest is urology and nephrology. Lithotripsy treatments provide an attractive option for those patients with recurring stones so they will not have to undergo repeated invasive surgeries. Although the best candidates for lithotripsy are dogs, the procedure can also be used for female cats. Male cats are generally not good candidates for the procedure due to their small urethras. In the future, VMC farm animal clinicians may choose laser fragmentation of stones in male goats, which commonly suffer from blocked urethras. Purdue University and the University of Minnesota pioneered the laser lithotripsy technique in veterinary medicine and have been using it successfully for the past several years.

What to expect

Patients referred to the VMC for a suspected urinary stone will be evaluated with routine pre-operative blood work, radiographs, or ultrasound, as needed. Patients will stay overnight and undergo the procedure the next day. Most patients will require one additional overnight stay to monitor recovery and receive follow up medications. Lithotripsy can be safer and is less invasive than conventional surgery, and some side effects may occur, including pain and swelling from the instrumentation. Rarely, the stones cannot be adequately fragmented, so conventional surgery may still be needed. However, for the majority of patients, the procedure will provide rapid relief for an often painful condition with a minimal recovery period of just a day or two.

For more information on laser lithotripsy, please call 614-292-3551.

Written by: Kristine McComis