Every year, around 500 people across Aotearoa are identified as suitable candidates for lithotripsy, a non-invasive medical procedure for treating kidney stones.
For more than thirty years, urological surgeon Mr Jon Cadwallader has been part of the solution, co-founding a state-of-the-art mobile unit that delivers lithotripsy to whānau in need in our community, and across the country.
“Approximately 8 percent of the population will experience kidney stones at some point in their life. The technology in Mobile Medical is very effective but comes at a high cost, so it makes sense to share that around,” says Mr Cadwallader.
“This style of service delivery is designed to do just that, as well as simplifying treatments." Most regions do not have a sufficient number of suitable candidates for lithotripsy to justify the purchase of their own equipment, making a shared mobile facility a cost-effective solution.
On one of its quarterly visits to Tairāwhiti last week, it was all hands on deck in a brand new mobile unit, with a well-oiled team at work. Each procedure requires an anaesthetist, anaesthetic technician, medical imaging technologist, and a team of local nurses who are crucial to service operation and ensure everything runs smoothly on the day.
“One of the greatest benefits of Mobile Medical is being able to bring this service to communities like Tairāwhiti where we can reduce the need for people to travel elsewhere to get that kind of treatment”, says Mr Cadwallader.
Lithotripsy treats kidney stones by producing concentrated, high-frequency sound waves that break the stones down into tiny pieces which are then flushed naturally from the body.
The type of treatment provided to people suffering from kidney stones is determined by a urologist who will consider all factors about a person's health before a decision is made on whether lithotripsy is suitable.