Health chiefs have told how a new £400,000 treatment device is cutting waiting times and saving hours of surgeons’ time each month.
NHS Grampian’s Endowment Fund funded the launch of a lithotripsy service earlier this year to provide treatment for kidney stones.
The permanent lithotripter replaces a mobile service and provides more effective treatment for patients with kidney stones.
Thanks to the new equipment, which has already been used to treat more than 170 patients in the last six months, medics can now treat more cases of kidney stones non-invasively.
Urology consultant Dr Ismail Mokadem said: “Lithotripsy is minimally invasive, patients require some painkillers without the need for anaesthetic and the procedure lasts between 20 minutes and an hour.
“Patients are treated by a very well-trained team of clinicians, radiographers and nurses. Side effects are very rare and the risk is lower than surgery.
“The introduction of the on-site lithotripsy service has tripled our capacity to treat patients with stone disease with one of the least invasive techniques available.
“Previously, we were limited to endoscopic procedures which were performed with general anaesthetic or we relied on the visiting service which was only available every six weeks and was not as patient-centred as the new on-site lithotripsy service.
“As the new service is on-site, it enables us to offer emergency treatment to patients during the same admission or the latest within two weeks. This had a significant impact on emergency theatre utilisation and on readmission rates due to pain and allows patients to return faster to their normal lives.”
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Dr Mokadem praised the positive impact the addition was having on patients.
He said: “The new service significantly reduces waiting times for other urological procedures too. As more and more patients are treated in the lithotripsy suite, this has freed more theatre time and capacity to treat other urological conditions.”
Prior to the launch of the service at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary clinicians relied on a touring service.
Dr Mokadem said: “Patients received treatment then it could be three months before the next session.”
Sheena Lonchay, manager of the NHS Grampian Endowment Fund, said she was “delighted the charity has been able to support the project”.
She added: “The Endowment Fund exists to benefit patients in ways that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible and that is exactly what this system does.”
Endowment committee chairwoman Luan Grugeon added: “I think we all know someone who has suffered the pain of kidney stones and this new service will allow patients to be treated more quickly.”