Surgical lasers are used in modern medicine to replace scalpel blades. They are able to deliver precise incisions and work in more complex areas that a conventional scalpel blade cannot reach. Surgery on the urinary system can include the delicate tissues of the bladder, kidneys or prostate, and urology lasers can improve the techniques used for these procedures.
Lithotripsy is the medical destruction and removal of stones. Urinary stones can develop at any point within the urinary system, from the kidneys to the urethra, which is the small tube from which urine leaves the body. If stones are too difficult to pass or causing damage to surrounding tissues, laser lithotripsy is a nonsurgical option for treatment. During lithotripsy, a laser endoscope is passed through the urethra into the urinary system. Using specific wavelengths, the laser breaks the stones into smaller pieces that can then be removed surgically or be passed naturally.
Sometimes, due to previous damage or disease, the urethra can become unnaturally narrow. This narrowing, also called a stricture, can cause obstruction of urine exiting the bladder, leading to patient discomfort. Urethroplasty and endoscopic urethrotomy are two techniques that use urology lasers to resolve strictures. With urethroplasty, the narrowed area of the urethra is removed and reconstructed, allowing for a smoother passage of urine. During endoscopic urethrotomy, a laser works from within the urethra to dissolve the excess tissue causing the stricture.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
In men, the prostate gland is located around the urethra. If the prostate becomes enlarged, it can cause partial obstruction of the bladder. Lasers are used to decrease the amount of prostatic tissue that surrounds the urethra, allowing for complete emptying of the bladder.
When used on the urinary system, urology lasers can turn major surgery into a non-invasive procedure that requires less time inside a hospital. By using lasers to improve these surgical procedures, surgeons can be more efficient and patients can recover faster.