Dr. Caligiuri Introduces New Kidney Stone Procedure to Region

posted on Monday, April 22, 2019 in General

Those who have experienced a kidney stone passing from the kidneys through a ureter into their bladder are painfully familiar with the symptoms.  And, if the stone didn’t pass naturally, they may have undergone a procedure at Spencer Hospital where the stone was broken up through lithotripsy to pass more easily, or actually have had the stone retrieved through a surgical procedure. Yet, what happens to the large stones that remain in the kidney?

A large stone – typically around 2 centimeters in size - may not create symptoms for all patients. Yet, others may experience pain in their flank area or may have reoccurring bladder infections. Plus, the chances of the stones naturally trying to pass and either getting stuck in the ureter or traveling a painful path to the bladder remains a possibility.

Locally, large kidney stones have been routinely treated with external shockwave lithotripsy, a procedure designed to help break up a large stone into smaller, more manageable pieces. Yet, lithotripsy is not always successful. In the past, another option was to send patients to a distant facility to undergo a special procedure called percutaneous nephrolithotomy. With the recent addition of urologist Dr. Charlotte Caligiuri to Northwest Iowa Urology and the Spencer Hospital medical staff, this procedure can now be performed close to home. 

“I am excited to be offering this service to patients in need that would otherwise need to travel two to three hours to receive similar care,” expressed Dr. Caligiuri.  Since starting her practice in Spencer in early 2019, Dr. Caligiuri has implemented this procedure into her practice at Spencer Hospital.

She explained that this minimally invasive procedure is performed by surgically inserting a small scope directly into the patient’s kidney. The kidney stone is broken up using both ultrasonic wave energy and ballistic shockwave energy and all the pieces are removed through the scope.  The patient typically stays overnight in the hospital and then returns for a follow-up check approximately two weeks later and for stent removal. 

To support Dr. Caligiuri in performing this procedure, the Spencer Regional Healthcare Foundation funded the purchase of a new lithotripter unit and also an upgrade of the laser used to assist in breaking up kidney stones. 

“We’re thrilled to work with Dr. Caligiuri in providing this service to patients in our region,” commented Matt Cooper, Spencer Hospital surgical center director. “She’s a delight to work with and a very talented surgeon. We provide a wide variety of surgical specialties and continue to evaluate the potential of new services to provide care locally.”