NATRONA HEIGHTS, Pa., Sept. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Under the direction of Triangle Urology's Herman Bagga, MD, Allegheny Health Network's Allegheny Valley Hospital has established a new program that offers advanced care around the clock for patients who suffer from painful kidney stones.

Kidney stones occur primarily in individuals who consume a diet high in sodium and animal protein, and low in hydration. "We see an unusually high rate in this area, likely due to the dietary preferences of the people who live here," said Dr. Bagga. The stones are composed of deposits of salts and hard minerals that form inside the kidney, and when they become lodged in the urinary tract, which connects the kidney to the bladder, the result is an acute attack often described as excruciatingly painful and on par with labor contractions during childbirth.

Two factors, which can be determined through a CT scan, help doctors decide on the best course of treatment for kidney stones: where they are located and how large they are. "They can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pearl," said Dr. Bagga. Stones located in the kidney don't usually cause a problem unless they move around, and the smallest ones may pass through the ureter without any discomfort. However, if they are larger and become caught in the urethra, they can cause an intensely painful urinary blockage and must be removed surgically.

Historically, patients who ended up in the emergency department and were diagnosed with kidney stones that needed to be removed were sent home with pain medication to tide them over until a urologist was available to perform the surgery. Additionally, the laser technology used to pulverize the stones, called lithotripsy, is not available at all hospitals, which can further delay treatment.

Allegheny Valley Hospital's new Kidney Stone Center addresses both of those barriers to fast, effective treatment, thanks to a team of five urologists and new in-house lithotripsy capabilities with the Dornier Medilas H100 laser available 24/7. Joining Dr. Bagga are fellow AHN urologists Goutham Vemana, MD, Jordan Allen, MD, Kyle Schuyler, MD and Ralph Miller, MD.

"This approach to the treatment of kidney stone disease models other medical specialties, such as obstetrics, where a team of physicians collaborate on the care of their patients, virtually eliminating any delay in treatment," said Dr. Vicenta Gaspar-Yoo, president of Allegheny Valley Hospital. "It's the way care should be delivered, and we are fortunate to have this team of experienced and talented specialists here at AVH to see that it is."

Lithotripsy is a procedure that breaks apart kidney stones. Urologists feed a very fine tube-like instrument with a small camera on the end into the patient's urethra. Doctors can visualize the stone on the monitor and shatter it into small pieces with a laser beam. They also feed a tiny basket through the scope to collect pieces of the stone, which are analyzed, and along with the results of blood and urine tests, help doctors develop a plan for prevention.

"The biggest risk factor for future stone formation is having a prior stone," said Dr. Bagga. "We don't want to wait for the next one to come, so we try to create a personalized plan for each patient that lowers their risk, preferably to zero." The vast majority of kidney stones can be prevented and the three most controllable factors, which Dr. Bagga shares universally are:

  • Increase hydration -- as a rule, people should drink more water and less coffee and tea
  • Decrease salt intake -- along with table salt, bear in mind the salt content of snacks like potato chips and pretzels as well as processed foods
  • Eat less red meat and animal protein -- one or two servings per week, ideally

To schedule a visit with the AHN Allegheny Valley Stone Center, please call 724-337-8404. For general urology visits with AHN Triangle Urology, please call 412-DOCTORS.

Media Contact

JoAnne Clobus, Highmark Health, 724-651-3205,


SOURCE Allegheny Health Network

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