Kidney-stone crusher powers up

A machine used to treat kidney stones, which gathered dust at the Ottawa Hospital for two years because the province wouldn't pay for its operation, was finally put into service Monday.

The $900,000 lithotripter uses sound waves to smash painful kidney stones without invasive surgery. "It is now the standard of practice for the management of the majority of kidney stones," says the Ottawa Hospital's chief urologist, Dr. John Collins. "It allows, finally, the patients in this area to have this state-of-the-art treatment in their own community."

In the past, patients who needed a lithotripter had to go to Montreal, Toronto or London, Ont.

Before its installation at the Riverside campus of the Ottawa Hospital, the machine had been sitting idle for two years because the province wouldn't fund the treatment.

The lithotripter, a gift from the Ottawa Hospital Foundation, will be able to treat up to a 1,000 people each year.