Excerpt: Lithotripsy at John Muir Health – It’s Kidney Stone Season
As summer approaches, your patients may not be aware that their risk of developing kidney stones rises with the temperature – both during and after the warmer months. There are a few easy steps to patients can take prevent kidney stones. And if they do develop stones, John Muir Health is uniquely prepared to deal with them in a timely way, with minimal discomfort.
Our onsite, dedicated lithotripsy suite is the only one in the East Bay, according to urologist Wei Zheng, MD, providing speedier relief from kidney stones and the severe pain and disability that this condition can cause. Dr. Zheng, as well as Lynn Rodegard, RN, nurse navigator in the Cancer Program, tells us below what is most important to know about lithotripsy treatment and care for those who are at risk of developing kidney stones. Although the condition may not be life threatening, clinicians agree that it is not just inconvenient, but has a pain scale “off the chart.”
John Muir Health Physician Newsletter: What do you most want other JMH physicians to know about your program?
Dr. Zheng: It’s important to know that in terms of timing of treatment, we have a lithotripter onsite, and can access it any time of the day. We have the only onsite lithotripsy suite in the East Bay – it’s highly unusual to have this easy access, which benefits patients from our area as well as much further away. We have patients from Chico, Sacramento, Placerville and many other places.
Sometimes, when they get a stone, they go to their local ER, then are sent to a urologist who may be able to treat them in two weeks. If they go online, they may learn about John Muir Health’s lithotripsy program, and even if they are 150-200 miles away, they call us. Lynn Rodegard does a phone interview, and tells them to stop aspirin or other NSAIDS. Sometimes a patient may come in the morning, and if they are NPO [Latin for nothing by mouth] and are healthy, we can even treat them in the afternoon. This is very, very convenient for the patient, and saves a lot of time and misery.
Tips for Patients: Avoiding Kidney Stones
- Make a point to drink more water! Exercising in the heat can bring a significant loss of water through sweating. According to the Kidney Foundation, the more you sweat, the less you urinate, which allows stone-causing minerals to settle and bond in the kidneys and urinary tract. So keeping well hydrated is the best thing to do to prevent kidney stones. Take along more water than you think you need.
- Make lemonade! Chronic kidney stones are often treated with potassium citrate, but studies have shown that limeade, lemonade and other fruits and juices high in natural citrate offer the same stone-preventing benefits. Just watch the sugar intake.
- Consider lowering your intake of oxalates, as calcium oxalate stones are the leading type of kidney stones. Oxalate is found in peanuts, rhubarb, spinach, beets, chocolate and sweet potatoes. Moderating intake may help, though most kidney stones are formed when oxalate binds to calcium while urine is produced by the kidneys. Eat and drink calcium and oxalate-rich foods together during a meal. This way, oxalate and calcium are more likely to bind to one another before the kidneys begin processing, making it less likely that stones will form.
- Don’t reduce calcium intake to avoid stones. Instead, work to cut back on sodium, and pair calcium-rich foods with oxalate-rich foods.
- Follow a healthy diet that contains mostly vegetables and fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Eating less animal-based protein and eating more fruits and vegetables helps decrease urine acidity and reduce the chance for stone formation.