The holmium laser – a game changer for Urology

A new state of the art holmium laser has been quite literally making waves at the Princess Royal Hospital. Thanks to our generous supporters, the laser is now helping deliver minimally invasive treatment for urology patients.

What difference do supporters donations make?

It’s great to see all the different ways donations and legacies continue to make things better for patients. The urology team is keen to both thank BSUH Charity supporters. They also want to share the impact on patients of the laser supporters helped pay for earlier this year.

Every day the charity team processes requests from staff for funds. When a request came in from the urology department for funding for a high powered version of existing equipment, well, it really stood out.

The request outlined why the holmium laser would be “a major enhancement on the current service”. It also said it was “a game changer for renal stones” and would ‘improve patient outcomes’.

So, just how much of a difference is the laser is making? We went along to see it in situ in theatre at The Princess Royal.

What is a holmium laser?

If you’re a techno buff you might like the manufacturer’s description:

“The Lumenis Pulse 120H high power laser system is providing a ultra-high repetition rate of up to 80Hz and a powerful energy of 6J per pulse with a wide performance envelope that provide a versatile tool to cover the needed Urology treatments in an excellent way for HoLEP, Vaporization (HoLVP), Ultra speed Stone Dusting and Laser PCNL.”

If you’re still confused, Urology Consultant Andy Symes explains what the technical spec means in practise for BSUH patients,

“This laser is really as good as it gets when it comes to having a kidney stone treatment. What it allows is for you to have a very quick, simple day surgery procedure. Your stones are treated in a relatively non-invasive fashion.”

A professional team with state of the art equipment

Holmium lasers are a powerful tool and BSUH staff are specially trained to operate it. All of the team in the Princess Royal operating theatre wear lead aprons over their scrubs for protection. From the consultant to radiographer, from anesthetist to senior health care assistant, when the laser is switched on everyone also has to don protective goggles .

It’s amazing to see live images captured by the optic fibre as the laser is used to pulverize a kidney stone. Expertly controlled by a member of the urology team, the laser quickly and efficiently fragments the stone to miniscule dust particles reducing the need for retrieval devices.

Shorter operations = shorter waiting time

Just five or ten years ago, patients may have needed two operations to remove kidney stones. The new laser is so powerful that the same type of stones can now be treated in one sitting and in a very much shorter time.

Mr Andy Symes

Mr Symes says while it is great news that patients can recover more quickly, the laser also has a broader effect.

“The other impact is on the hospital as a whole; because we are treating patients so much quicker, we are able to get more patients on our operating lists. That really helps with our productivity and dealing with our waiting lists.

“For the individual patient they are having a quicker procedure, they’re in and out of hospital quicker and they’re hopefully having a better outcome. For the hospital it’s more efficient, we’re treating more patients and we can get them through in a quicker timescale.”

For more information:

Watch Consultant surgeon Andy Symes explain the benefits of the holmium laser

Help make a difference: Find out how to donate to the Urology Department