Photonics Dictionary

laser lithotripsy

Laser lithotripsy is a medical procedure that uses laser energy to break down or fragment stones in various parts of the body, particularly in the urinary and biliary systems. The term "lithotripsy" itself refers to the breaking or fragmentation of stones. Laser lithotripsy is commonly employed to treat kidney stones, ureteral stones, and gallstones.

Here is an overview of the key components and steps involved in laser lithotripsy:

Stone identification: Before the procedure, imaging techniques such as X-rays or ultrasound are used to identify the location and size of the stones in the body, such as kidney or bile duct stones.

Cystoscopy or ureteroscopy: In the case of urinary stones, a thin, flexible tube called a ureteroscope is typically inserted through the urethra and bladder to reach the ureter or kidney. For gallstones, a similar procedure may involve an endoscope inserted through the mouth to reach the gallbladder.

Laser fiber insertion: A laser fiber is passed through the ureteroscope or endoscope and positioned near the stone.

Laser energy application: The laser is then activated, delivering concentrated and powerful bursts of energy. This energy is directed at the stone, causing it to break into smaller fragments. The laser used in lithotripsy is often a high-powered and precise device, such as a Holmium:YAG laser.

Fragment removal: After the stone has been fragmented, the smaller pieces may pass naturally through the urinary or biliary system. In some cases, additional techniques or tools, such as retrieval baskets or suction, may be used to remove the stone fragments.

Post-procedure care: Following the laser lithotripsy procedure, patients may be advised to increase fluid intake to help flush out stone fragments. Pain management and monitoring for any complications are part of post-procedure care.

Laser lithotripsy is a minimally invasive alternative to traditional surgical methods for stone removal. It reduces the need for large incisions and can be associated with shorter recovery times. The specific type of laser and the approach used may vary based on the characteristics of the stones and the patient's condition.

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