Reducing Kidney Stone Treatment Complications

April 30, 2014

Low-risk kidney stone procedures can result in complications that require costly emergency care and hospitalization, according to a recent Duke study. That’s less likely to occur at Duke’s high-volume kidney stone center, which uses a comprehensive approach to keep people on the road to recovery following kidney stone treatment.

“We’ve put several procedures in place to help patients recover,” says Charles Scales, MD, a Duke urology surgeon and lead author of the study.” Before undergoing kidney stone treatment, patients receive a thorough education about what to expect following their procedure, including when to seek prompt medical attention. The urologists also use effective prevention measures to ensure their patients’ risk of post-procedure infection is minimized.

If a complication occurs, patients have rapid access to the Duke Comprehensive Kidney Stone Center, which is staffed by a team of kidney stone specialists five days each week. The clinic can provide IV fluids to patients in need, and is also available to patients with kidney stones symptoms who are referred by their primary care provider.

Duke’s approach specifically focuses on reducing the number of patients who seek emergency care, and are hospitalized after kidney stone treatment, a national trend Dr. Scales reported in his published study.

The research analyzed data from 93,000 people who underwent kidney stone treatments, and found that costs associated with complications following kidney stone treatments were as high as $47,000 when an unplanned visit occurred. The research also found that complications were less likely to occur in hospitals that performed high volumes of kidney stone procedures.

As the leading North Carolina center for kidney stone treatment, the Duke Comprehensive Kidney Stone Center employs a team of expertly trained urologic surgeons who perform hundreds of kidney stone procedures each year. These include shock wave lithotripsy, which uses shock waves to break up kidney stones, and ureteroscopy, a minimally invasive approach in which a laser is used to destroy kidney stones. Duke is a regional referral center for nephrolithotomy, a less common, more complicated procedure in which kidney stones are removed through a hollow tube placed through a small incision in the back.

Learn more about Duke’s research on the frequency and costs of kidney stone complications nationwide.

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