Because our surgeons are pioneers...we've transformed kidney care

St. Joseph's is a centre of innovation in kidney care

One in ten Canadians will have a kidney stone at some point in their life, a condition that causes excruciating pain often compared to childbirth. Worldwide about 10 per cent of adults suffer with kidney stones but in developing countries that number has risen to 20 per cent. And children are not immune.

Learn how our surgeons have advanced care and treatment for kidney stones

“We’re seeing an increased number of stones in children worldwide due to obesity and other factors,” says St. Joseph’s urologist Dr. John Denstedt.

Kidney stone symptoms can include: blood in the urine, urinary tract infections, nausea and vomiting and severe pain in the back or lower abdomen. Larger stones, up to the size of a golf ball, may have no symptoms and are only diagnosed through diagnostic imaging.

There are ways to prevent kidney stones by increasing fluid intake, drinking more water, following dietary strategies and taking certain medications. “At least half of all patients who have one kidney stone will get another stone and some patients can have many reoccurrences,” says Dr. Denstedt. “Prevention strategies are very important.”

Surgeons at St. Joseph’s Hospital have a long history of advances in the treatment and diagnosis of kidney stones. In 1990 St. Joseph’s became the second hospital in Ontario to offer lithotripsy, a non-invasive way to break up kidney stones.  The service was the busiest in the world, and today treats more than 1300 patients a year. In 1993, St. Joseph’s urologists were the first to treat a human for kidney stones using a holmium laser, a treatment now used around the world.

Before these innovative treatments, patients underwent open surgery, stayed in hospital for a week with six to eight weeks of recovery. Now, procedures are outpatient, with patients going home the same day with one to two days of recovery. 

With a recent appointment to the Board of Directors of the American Urological Association (AUA), and co-chair ship of an upcoming international consultation on kidney stone disease held by the Société Internationale d'Urologie (SIU), Dr. Denstedt joins the ranks of global experts in kidney stone disease. Fellow St. Joseph’s urologist Dr. Hassan Rasvi is also a leader as the immediate past president of the Northeast Section of the AUA.

In 2014, about 100 international experts will gather for the SIU consultation in Glasgow Scotland to develop consensus on the diagnosis and treatment of kidney stone disease, “By connecting the dots for the whole disorder and bringing a global perspective we can develop best practice and translate it to realistic care and treatment options for parts of the world where they may not have access to the latest technologies,” adds Dr. Denstedt.

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