Though kidney stones are a prevalent problem that affect more than 10% of the population and cost the US economy upwards of $10 billion annually, the complete removal of stone fragments is difficult to achieve without surgical interventions. Researchers at UCI have developed a novel vacuum endoscope which, when combined with standard kidney stone ablation procedures, is capable of completely removing the resulting fragments.
Nephrolithiasis (kidney stones) afflicts nearly 10% of the population and is currently the most expensive urological condition for the US economy, costing upwards of $10 billion annually to treat. Despite its cost, treatment is crucial – if left alone, nephrolithiasis can lead to persistent renal obstruction and even permanent renal damage. Large stones (> 7 mm) that cannot be passed naturally through the body are subsequently subject to ureteroscopic lithotripsy, in which a small scope is inserted into the bladder and used to precisely locate the inclusions. The stones are then typically subject to laser ablation, fragmented, and cleared by the body. This technique is often preferred over other methods as it is safer (especially for those pregnant, obese, and/or prone to blood clots), less expensive, and more accurate and robust. Despite these benefits, ureteroscopic lithotripsy still only clears ~50% of the total stone density. Unfortunately any fragmentation left behind increases the risk of recurrent stones. Clearly, this inefficiency in removing the stones can pose a widespread and expensive concern.
To increase the clearing efficiency, researchers at UCI have outfitted the standard lithotripsic device with a large vacuum channel, whereby the increased suction is capable of completely removing stone fragments. In addition to its increased efficiency, the device is completely wireless, ergonomic, and easy to maneuver with one hand. Finally, the disposable nature of both the vacuum endoscope and external battery pack eliminate the risk of infection from improper device cleaning.
· A ureteroscope, for the laser ablation of urethral and renal stones and the capture and removal of stone fragments
· More effective: The large vacuum channel allows for the complete removal of all stone fragments <1.5 mm.
· Safer: The device is disposable, eliminating the risk of infection and damage from improper cleaning.
· Easier to use: The cordless nature and ergonomic design makes the device more compact and easier to operate.
· Adaptive: The device is compatible with various types of endoscope tips.