The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shock cure for stones

For those suffering from kidney stones, there’s good news. The state-run National Medical College and Hospital now offers the option of having the stones crushed within minutes and returning home after spending no more than Rs 5,000.

An Extra Corporeal Shockwave Lithotriptor (ECSL) has been installed in the urology department of the hospital, which can crush kidney stones (2 to 2.5 cm) without surgery.

Imported at an estimated cost of Rs 27 lakh, the machine has been fully operational from Wednesday. It is the first of its kind to be installed in any government hospital in eastern India and the third in the city, after two private hospitals.

“It will help us cater to several hundred patients who turn up at the hospital to get cured of kidney ailments. This machine will not only ensure precision, it will also help generate revenue for the government,” said Dilip Karmakar, head of department (urology), National Medical College and Hospital.

The government had earlier installed a machine in the same department to study urodynamics, or the urine pattern of patients suffering from urine incontinence and other urological problems. Earlier, a patient would have to cough up around Rs 15,000 for a kidney stone surgery even on a free bed of the hospital, but the shock-wave therapy promises pain-free cure for Rs 5,000.

The shock-wave procedure involves the urologist zeroing in on the focal point of the kidney. Under the shock waves emanating from the machine, the stone disintegrates into small fragments inside the kidney, without the patient feeling any pain.

“The fragments pass out with the urine, following which the patient can go back home and rejoin work after a few days,” said Karmakar. In some cases, patients are put on mild analgesics during the post-operative period to overcome “mild pain” that might occur from the therapy.

In a bid to woo patients from private hospitals, the National Medical College and Hospital is offering “extremely low rates”. On competing with the private set-ups, Karmakar said: “The scenario is changing dramatically now, at last where urology is concerned. We will not only provide good service, but also ensure speedy recovery.”

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