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August 6, 2018

PIMS to resume free non-invasive kidney stone treatment after five years


August 6, 2018

Islamabad: The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences is set to ease the misery of poor people with stones in urinary tract by resuming free lithotripsy after a gap of five years.

The procedure meant to break kidney and bladder stones into tiny pieces by lasers for passing out in the urine had come to a stop at the government hospital, the largest in the federal capital, in 2013 when the Rs30 million lithotripter machine broke down.

The then and next hospital administrations did nothing for its repairs and thus, leading to the closure of the lithotripsy unit overseen by the Urology Department. The patients with stones either turned to private hospitals for expensive non-invasive and invasive treatment or fell victim to quack medicine due to poverty.

Recently, the current administration engaged the lithotripter supplier to make the facility functional again. It will be bound by contract to ensure the smooth operation of the machine for five years though spare parts, repair and maintenance services.

The private hospitals charge patients around Rs20,000 for a single session of lithotripsy. In some cases, patients need multiple sessions to lead a normal life. However, PIMS will do it free of charge for poor people no matter where they come from, while the non-entitled affording patients will pay Rs7,000 for it.

No public sector hospital in Islamabad and Rawalpindi offers lithotripsy at the moment. According to a senior PIMS urologist, the patients undergo lithotripsy after being anaesthetised and require one session or more for the fragmentation of stones depending on their type, size and location. The non-invasive procedure lasts 30 to 90 minutes. He told ‘The News’ that lithotripsy is better than open surgery as the patients usually take one to three days to completely recover from non-invasive procedure, while the recovery time from surgical procedure is a month or more.

The expert said the patients were x-rayed weeks after the procedure was done to see if the stone fragments had completely passed out of the urinary tract and if fragments were found, lithotripsy or other procedures were performed on them.

He said kidney stones were solid masses made of crystals and were mostly caused by a lack of water in the body, while men were more vulnerable to the problem than women and that, too, in the age between 30 and 50 years.

The expert warned that the people with a history of kidney stones could have the problem again by not taking preventative measures, including hydration, little intake of salty food, and maintaining of healthy body weight.

When contacted, PIMS executive director Dr Raja Amjad Mehmood confirmed the imminent reopening of lithotripsy unit. He said the PIMS nephrology and urology outpatient departments received 300-400 patients daily and many of them required lithotripsy. Dr Mehmood said the Urology Department had the required trained staff members for the unit, who would perform 10-15 lithotripsies daily.

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