With a new kidney stone diagnosis, a six week ultrasound scan is now standard in the UK.
Key points:Doctors are now seeing kidney stones as a diagnosis rather than a form of medical historyThe US has a six month waiting list for kidney stones to be testedIf you have kidney stones, here’s what to do to avoid getting oneThe National Kidney Foundation says the new system is part of a national effort to better understand and treat kidney stonesThe National Health Service has developed a system that will allow doctors to perform a six-week kidney stone scan using a computer.
“The UK is the first country in the world to have this type of scan for the first time,” Dr Lisa O’Connor, a GP who runs the National Kidneys Foundation said.
“What we are seeing is that the UK has a very good understanding of kidney stones and has developed these new tests to better diagnose them.”
The National Cancer Institute says there is currently a six year waiting list to be diagnosed with a kidney stone, and the UK’s NHS has a waiting list of more than 12 months.
The US Health Department has a seven-month waiting list.
Dr O’Connors research into the health of the US population, including the kidney stone population, led to the development of a similar new system.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is the lead agency for the new UK system.
Dr Kevin Kempton, NIDDK’s senior scientist on kidney stones said they were still trying to figure out how they would operate.
“It’s very complex.
The whole system needs to be able to operate in a way that can work with all these different factors,” he said.
Dr Kemptons team had to work with the National Health Care Trust (NHT), which had the financial and technical backing to operate this new system, as well as the National Hospital for Sick Children (NHS) in the capital.
“We’re working closely with them to make sure we’re doing it right,” he explained.
“This is really a collaborative effort between the UK Government, NHS, NHS England and NHS England’s partners in the NHDDK and NIDDH, to get this right.”
Dr Kernon said the new NHS system would provide a better understanding of the condition and make the patient more likely to receive the proper treatment.
“For people who are struggling with the condition, we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in complications over the last 12 months and there are very few in the country with the complication rate,” he noted.
“In the United States we’ve had about 60-70 per cent of patients survive.
We’ve seen that number go down over the past 12 months.”
He said this reduction in complications was likely because of the improved health systems and improved care in the US.
“So we’re seeing a huge improvement in our care and it’s encouraging that we’re in a position to get to this stage.”
Dr O’ton said there was a need to improve the quality of care for patients who were suffering from kidney stones.
“There are still some complications that we know are happening, but we don’t know exactly how many,” she said.”[But] what we know is that most of the complications are getting better.”
Dr Kevin O’Brien, the NIDDC’s executive director, said the system was not only a way to improve kidney stone care, but also a way for people with kidney stones in the future to get the correct treatment.
The system will be rolled out over the next three months.