Updated: Thursday, 18 Jun 2009, 6:57 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 18 Jun 2009, 6:57 PM EDT
CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Lasers have revolutionized many medical procedures. Now doctors can use one to remove gall stones.
The "spyglass laser" wipes out the painful stones.
Every two weeks, Gerry Gianturco suffered from nausea and vomitting.
Gianturco said, "We wondered if I had gall bladder disease, but I didn't have the pain that usually is associated with it."
She went to see Doctor Ramesh Luther of Sisters Hospital, St. Joseph Campus, who discovered a very large gall stone in her bile duct.
In the past, that might have required surgery, but a new device, called spyglass with a tiny camera and a laser can destroy the stone and remove the pieces.
The device was threaded into the bile duct. It was advanced until the stone was seen.
Dr. Luther said, "We were able to put the laser probe through this, see the stone in the bile duct, with this vision as you see here, and blast the stone."
There was a burst of laser light, and when it was finished there were only tiny fragments left.
Dr. Luther said, "With just two blasts of five seconds each, I was able to completely disintegrate the stone into hundreds of pieces."
Gerry was the first patient in western New York to have the procedure. There have only been about 70 worldwide, and none have had any complications.
Dr. Luther said, "(The) patient walks in. They do the procedure. They go home as if nothing happened."
Gianturco said, "You just go to sleep and when you wake up it's all over, and I felt better immediately."
For many patients with gall stone problems, it will be the technique of choice.
But, of course, first you have to discover the problem.
Gianturco said, "You've gotta find out what's wrong with you. Can't just wait for it to go away by itself, which is what we tend to do, don't we?"
News 4's Jacquie Walker asked, "She didn't realize she had a gall stone problem because she didn't have pain, so how what are some of the other things that should alert you?
Dr. Peter Ostrow said, "About a quarter of patients don't have that typical pain. Her problems, nausea and vomiting and loss of appetite, are also characteristic of biliary tract disease, and so are chills and fever. Sometimes it's discovered on a routine lab test. The thing to do is to see your doctor if you don't feel well, and to have regular check-ups."