Articles tagged with: Kidney

10
January
2015

Rapid Access Kidney Stone Service

Rapid Access Kidney Stone Service

Kidney stones are a common problem in Australia and can be very painful. Patients with severe pain may need to be seen urgently by a urologist. One option is to present to an emergency department, where the condition can be diagnosed with a consultation and CT scan, and then referral if necessary to a urologist.

From early 2015 we will be offering a rapid access stone assessment service based in the rooms at Calvary Hospital in North Adelaide. You will need a referral from your GP, and can then be seen the same day, with a CT scan organised at Radiology SA (in the same building as our office). CT usually needed to confirm the diagnosis, and show the size and location of the stone.

If necessary, you can be admitted directly to Calvary North Adelaide Hospital, and have the necessary treatment undertaken. Often, it is enough to be admitted with pain killing drugs, anti-inflammatories, and a tablet called an alpha-blocker – many kidney stones will pass on their own with this treatment and this may be sufficient to relieve your kidney stone pain. If the stone is larger or there are complications such as infection, you can have your surgery at the same time.

The aim of this rapid access kidney stone service is to shorten the time from presentation to definitive treatment.


Categories: Updates, Kidney Stones

07
January
2015

Kidney stone infection and surgery

Kidney stone infection and surgery

Patients with kidney stones that need surgical treatment are at risk of urinary tract infection, and sometimes sepsis. Stones often have bacteria attached to them, and these bacteria can be hard to eliminate. A recent study from Tel Aviv University looked at post-operative infection in patients undergoing percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL). Stone samples retrieved during surgery were sent for culture, to see if there were bacteria associated with the kidney stones.

Urinary sepsis (an infection that spreads from urine into the bloodstream and causes a patient to be unwell) occurred in 31% of patients who had a positive stone culture, compared to 5.9% of those patients who had a negative stone culture. E coli (gram negative bacteria) and Enterococcus sp. (gram positive bacteria) were the most common organisms found.

The problem is that it takes a number of days for the culture to come back, and the patient will have developed sepsis by that time. However, what it does highlight is that doing a urine culture 1 to 2 weeks before PCNL surgery can help the situation. If the urine culture is positive, the patient should have a course of antibiotics for 7 days to try to sterilise the urine, and then intravenous antibiotics at the time of surgery. If the urine is sterile pre-operatively, then intravenous antibiotics at the time of surgery are sufficient.

Two other interesting points were raised. First, that resistance to ciprofloxacin and norfloxacin was high, and this is something that is of concern. These antibiotics may be overused in the general population, causing resistance. This is something we are also seeing in patients who need a prostate biopsy for a raised PSA.

Second, we know that some patients cannot reach a point where the urine is sterile (free of bacteria) if they have stones, because the stones themselves are colonised with bacteria, and antibiotics cannot get into stones. These patients pose a specific problem and are at higher risk of infection.

Reference - Ohad Shoshany et al. Percutaneous nephrolithotomy for infection stones: what is the risk for postoperative sepsis? A retrospective cohort study. Urolithiasis (online) 01 Jan 2015

You can read more about kidney stone surgery and the risk of infection by following this link to an article by Michael Wong.


Categories: Updates, Kidney Stones

29
April
2014

Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR)

Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR)

Our First Guest Blog for May 2014 is by Dr Shankar Siva, a Radiation Oncologist from The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne. He discusses the new technique of Sterotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy for kidney cancer in patients who are not medically fit for surgery. This new approach is still in a study period, but may offer cancer control to patients who do not have other treatment options.


Shankar, can you explain what Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR) is, and what advantages it has over other forms of radiotherapy?


Stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy (SABR) is a high precision radiotherapy technique that involves between 1 and 5 treatments. This is very different from conventional radiotherapy that involves daily radiotherapy for up to 8 weeks. It is non-invasive, painless, delivered without any need for anaesthetic, and conveniently does not require in-patient hospitalisation. SABR requires high-tech radiotherapy equipment for safe delivery, such as motion management for the tumour, accurate image guidance, and robust immobilisation. When delivered correctly, SABR can achieve submillimetre accuracy. Because of its precision, the SABR technique allows for much higher biological doses than can be safely delivered using conventional radiotherapy techniques. As such, most studies in sites such as the brain, lung and spine report cancer control rates in the order of 90% or greater after SABR.


Sterotactic radiotherapy for some other types of tumour has been around for some time. Why has it only recently been looked at for kidney tumours?


Stereotactic radiotherapy was first devised for brain tumours by Swedish neurosurgeon Lars Leksell in 1951, who termed it “radiosurgery”, so yes, it has been around for a very long time! Cranial "radiosurgery" was performed by using a rigid frame around the skull which allowed for accurate delivery of the radiation dose. However, tumours in other organs such as the lung, liver, and kidney are all highly mobile due to normal breathing or from the pumping of the heart. Only recently have technological advances allowed us to account for and manage tumour motion during radiotherapy delivery. The kidney in particular is a challenging organ, as it is quite mobile and surrounded by many sensitive organs.


Which group of patients is likely to be suitable for this treatment for kidney tumours?


Surgery is still the standard of care for patients with kidney cancer. However, kidney cancer is typically a disease of the older population, with the average age of diagnosis being 65 years of age. Some patients have other medical conditions which make invasive procedures potentially risky, particularly those patients who may have significant pre-existing kidney dysfunction, are risky anaesthetic candidates, or have heart disease and are reliant on blood thinners. In light of this risk, other procedures such as SABR and radiofrequency or microwave ablation have emerged as treatment alternatives for inoperable patients. In contrast to SABR, the disadvantage of radiofrequency ablation and microwave ablation is that those techniques can typically treat only treat smaller tumours, require the insertion of electrodes through the skin into the kidney (invasive), and are not as effective when tumours are close to blood vessels. On the other hand, the disadvantage of SABR is that it is typically restricted to patients who have not previously received radiotherapy to the upper abdomen. Otherwise, we expect that most patients who are not suitable for surgery on medical grounds may be eligible for treatment using the SABR technique.


What are the potential side effects?


In the early period after treatment, we expect that most patients feel tired. There may be some nausea, or loose bowel actions. Some patients may experience some reflux or heartburn. We typically prescribe preventative medications to help with these side effects. There may be a mild skin reaction, similar to a very light sunburn, particularly around the back. These side effects usually resolve within the first 2-3 weeks, and we expect all of these side effects to be resolved by around 6 weeks post treatment. The longer term effects of SABR in the kidney are less well understood. There is a potential for decline in kidney function, rise in blood pressure, scarring or narrowing of the bowel, or very rarely ulceration of the bowel or stomach. To date, studies have shown that the risk of severe side effects to be less than 5%.


This treatment is currently part of a study at the Peter Mac. What do you think the future holds for this treatment for kidney tumours?


We have pioneered this technique in Australia through the FASTRACK clinical trial, one of the few clinical trials using SABR for localised kidney cancer in the world. This study is expected to be complete later in 2014, and to date the results have been very promising. We would like to make this treatment accessible to all patients in Australia. However, the problem is that technology is very complex and varies from centre to centre. The Peter Mac is one of the largest radiation oncology institutions in the southern hemisphere and an Australian leader in the SABR technique, so we are not certain whether our results can be immediately reproduced in other institutions across Australia.

The next phase in our research program is to lead a multicentre study of SABR for kidney cancer involving multiple cancer centres across Australia. All the treatment plans will be centrally reviewed by our team at the Peter Mac for quality assurance, in order for this new treatment to be safely introduced across Australia. If this study is successful, I imagine that stereotactic radiotherapy will become a readily available treatment alternative for inoperable patients with primary kidney cancer.


Click this link to display a news item and video on the SABR technique.


Dr Siva is a Radiation Oncologist, Research Staff Specialist and NHMRC Scholar at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne. His major research interests are in high-tech radiation delivery and radiation biology. He is the lead clinician of the stereotactic body radiotherapy program at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and coordinates the first dedicated Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR) clinic in Australia. He published the first original research using the SABR technique in Australia. He serves on the Radiation Oncology Research Committee (RORC) of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists, on the renal subcommittee of the Australian and New Zealand Urogenital and Prostate (ANZUP) trials group, and as the radiation oncologist on the Management Advisory Committee (MAC) of the Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group (ALTG). He is the principal investigator of multiple radiotherapy clinical trials of SABR in the context of lung, kidney and prostate malignancies.

Follow this link for more information on Dr. Shankar Siva


Categories: Video, Updates, Kidney Cancer

25
November
2013

Cytoreductive Nephrectomy In Clinical Practice

Cytoreductive Nephrectomy In Clinical Practice

David Nicol is a Consultant Urological Surgeon at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London where he is also Chief of Surgery. His clinical work deals with complex kidney and testis cancer including surgery in patients with advanced and metastatic disease. Here, he explains the use of cytoreductive nephrectomy in metastatic kidney cancer.

David, can you explain what is meant by cytoreductive nephrectomy?

Cytoreductive nephrectomy refers to the removal of the primary kidney tumour in patients who have metastatic disease. Historically it had been noted that occasional patients experienced spontaneous regression of metastatic disease when this was performed. This however only occurred in a very small number of cases and general opinion was that cytoreductive nephrectomy as the overwhelming majority died within 12-18 months from metastatic disease. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, drugs which stimulated the immune system(immunotherapy) had an effect on metastatic kidney cancer.

Small trials with 2 agents interferon-alpha (IFN-a) and interleukin-2 (IL-2) showed response rates better than what had been observed with conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy. Analysis of these studies suggested that patients who had a nephrectomy performed prior to treatment resulted in a better response to both INF-a and IL-2. The basis for this was uncertain with possibilities including a selection bias with only fitter patients, who would otherwise expect to live longer, having nephrectomy. Alternatively it was also proposed that cytoreductive nephrectomy may exert some biological effect improving the effectiveness of immunotherapy and thus overall survival.

Which patients with metastatic kidney cancer are suitable for cytoreductive nephrectomy?

Cytoreductive nephrectomy is really only an appropriate option for patients who are otherwise well. Patients whose performance status is impaired are at high risk of complications from major surgery and also generally have poor survival that is not improved with cytoreductive nephrectomy. Therefore patients who have noted significant weight loss, are anemic or who feel tired and generally unwell are not considered candidates for cytoreductive nephrectomy. Some patients may present with significant symptoms including pain and bleeding for which nephrectomy is recommended. This is regarded as a palliative intervention to control symptoms rather than a cytoreductive nephrectomy which is performed with the expectation that it may improve survival.

Can you outline the evidence that cytoreductive nephrectomy can be beneficial in some patients?

There are 2 trials – one performed in Europe and another in the United States that have demonstrated a survival benefit with cytoreductive nephrectomy in patients who are subsequently treated with IFN-a. These were both randomised controlled trials - in which patients, who all received IFN-a were randomly allocated to either cytoreductive nephrectomy or no surgery. Comparing the 2 groups which were of equal size revealed that patients undergoing cytoreductive nephrectomy had a median survival of 14 months compared to 8 months without. These studies also reinforced the lack of benefit in patients with poor performance status.

This is obviously difficult surgery. Are complication rates much higher compared to other forms of kidney cancer surgery?

Patients with metastatic kidney cancer usually have quite large primary tumours with a rich blood supply being a common feature. Both of these factors can make surgery very difficult and associated with a higher risk of complications, particularly major bleeding, compared to other forms of kidney cancer surgery. Most patients with kidney cancer have relatively small tumours and are able to have surgery performed either laparoscopically or robotically with low risk of complications. In contrast cytoreductive nephrectomy, in almost all cases, requires major open surgery as minimally invasive procedures are usually neither feasible nor safe. Patients with metastatic cancer are also generally at higher risk of complications with major surgery. Deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are 2 specific examples of this.

A relatively new treatment for metastatic kidney cancer is a class of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Is there any evidence that cytoreductive nephrectomy followed with TKIs is beneficial for patient outcomes and survival?

The treatment of metastatic kidney cancer has rapidly changed and now IFN-a and IL-2 are rarely used. Both agents have been largely replaced by a new group of drugs – termed targeted therapies due to their effect as tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). These drugs have a completely different mechanism of action – rather than stimulating the immune system they target tumour blood vessels. Essentially they reduce the blood flow to tumours.

At this point in time it is unknown whether or not cytoreductive nephrectomy improves the outcome in patients treated with TKI’s. It is important to note that the previous studies on cytoreductive nephrectomy only addressed the question as to whether or not this improved survival when patients were treated with IFN-2. Accepting the lack of clear evidence at this time it can still be considered in some patients. For example a patient who is otherwise well presenting with a kidney cancer and small volume metastatic disease I would suggest a cytoreductive nephrectomy as their initial management. The patient would then be observed, avoiding drug treatment until they show clear evidence of substantial progression of their metastatic disease. The rationale behind this is that TKI’s can have significant toxicity and also that resistance to treatment inevitably develops. By removing the kidney and delaying drug therapy the patient avoids toxicity of treatment and also emergence of resistance at a time when their metastatic disease may be stable or only slowly progressing(ie reserving it for maximum effect when it is really needed).

A different approach to cytoreductive nephrectomy would be considered in the patient with high volume or symptomatic metastatic disease. In this scenario I would not recommend cytoreductive nephrectomy as an initial step. Rather the patient should consider commencing a TKI from the outset. Surgery could delay therapy during which time his disease may progress with an overall deterioration in his condition such that he is never suitable for a TKI (as again these drugs only appear of benefit in patients with good performance status).

Categories: Other

19
November
2013

Aerospace Medicine and Urology

Aerospace Medicine and Urology

This week’s Guest Post is by Dr. Gordon Cable, a specialist in Aerospace Medicine, based in Adelaide. He discusses what this specialty involves and its relevance to Urology. He also talks about some of the big names at NASA he has met.


Gordon, can you explain what Aerospace Medicine involves?

Aerospace medicine is a specialty area of medicine that deals with the determination and maintenance of the health, safety and performance of all those who fly in the atmosphere or in space. It is an important specialty because those environments are so hostile to the anatomy, physiology and psychology of humans adapted to an earth-bound existence.


What sort of Urological problems do you encounter, and how do these affect pilots?

Pilots can of course develop any urological problem, just like any other member of the community, but the problem is how those conditions interact with the hostile aviation environment, and most importantly, how they affect a pilot’s performance and safety. Another important consideration is how any treatments for urological conditions might affect pilot performance, whether they be surgical or medications. The aerospace industry is still very heavily gender biased towards males, so mens’ health issues such as testicular cancer in younger males, prostatic hypertrophy and cancer in older males are common problems. Asymptomatic haematuria is a common finding at routine aviation medicals, which must be investigated thoroughly because the biggest showstopper of them all is the potential for renal calculus disease.


Kidney stones are a particular concern. Can you explain how the management of kidney stones in pilots differs from those in the general population?

The primary concern with renal calculi in pilots is the risk of sudden acute incapacitation due to renal colic. The presence of any calculi in the renal tract is bad news for pilots. Generally unrestricted medical certification is not possible, even if there is parenchymal calcification. When stones are present, even if asymptomatic, definitive treatment and proof of stone clearance is required before a pilot will be allowed to fly unrestricted. After an episode of renal colic, the risk of recurrence is also quite concerning, so careful management of stone-forming risk factors is particularly important, as is regular follow-up. Low-dose CT scanning is the preferred method of screening over ultrasound. Dehydration is common in many types of aviation operations, and some pilots are even known to intentionally dehydrate prior to flight so they don’t get caught short in the aircraft! This does not bode well for renal calculus risk.


What are the key areas of research in Aerospace Medicine?

Current hot topics and areas of ongoing work include fatigue management, especially as long haul flying now becomes commonplace with extended range aircraft. Aviation has always been a 24-hour a day industry, and combating the effects of shift work, long hours of “vigilant boredom”, and circadian dysrhythmia across multiple time zones are critical in maintaining pilot performance. The “ageing pilot” is an area of increasing interest with more and more pilots flying into their senior years beyond 60 years of age.

Cardiovascular risk, and determining the subtle effects of altered cognition are important areas of inquiry. Looking beyond earth, commercial space tourism is coming to a Spaceport near you – will you be fit to become an astronaut? This is a big question facing our specialty, and medically risk-managing a large cohort of the general public venturing into the near-vacuum microgravity conditions of suborbital flight is a topic we need to grapple with. Finally, maintaining the health of astronauts for long duration space flight will be essential if we ever intend to land humans on Mars, or travel beyond that on exploration class deep space missions to asteroids and beyond. Here radiation protection and the psychological aspects of isolation are important concerns.


You must have met some interesting people in your work. Who are the standouts?

Gordon Cable with Navy CAPT (Ret) Jim Lovell, Mission Commander of the famous but ill-fated Apollo 13.
Gordon with Navy CAPT (Ret) Jim Lovell, Mission Commander of the famous but ill-fated Apollo 13.

Attending international conferences in the field always affords the opportunity to meet some really interesting people, even some boyhood heros! I think the highlights have to be the NASA astronauts and flight surgeons I have met over the years. Last year I had the privilege to meet Jim Lovell, commander of the Apollo 13 mission, and Dr Charles “Chuck” Berry, NASA flight surgeon for the same mission. Previously I have met CAPT (Dr) Joe Kerwin, former USN Flight Surgeon and first US physician to fly in space as science-pilot aboard Skylab 2. Dr Story Musgrave, who flew on 6 Space Shuttle missions, attended one of our Australian conferences some years ago and in many ways was the most impressive individual I have ever met – physician, scientist, military and civilian pilot, astronaut – not sure how one can achieve so much in one lifetime!



Gordon Cable: Biography

A graduate of the University of Sydney, Gordon is a specialist in aerospace medicine, and a designated aviation medical examiner for CASA and CAD Hong Kong. His professional affiliations include:

  • Fellow of the Australasian College of Aerospace Medicine
  • Clinical Senior Lecturer, Discipline of Public Health, University of Adelaide
  • Past President/Honorary Member of the Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine
  • Member of the International Academy of Aviation and Space Medicine
  • Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association
  • Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society

Gordon is a Senior Aviation Medical Officer for the ADF, and has been a consultant to the RAAF Institute of Aviation Medicine since 1996. He has worked part time as a medical officer for CASA's aviation medicine section in aeromedical certification and complex case management. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Aviation Medicine from the University of Otago (NZ), and a Graduate Diploma of Occupational Health and Safety Management from the University of Adelaide. The author of many scientific publications, his professional interests include:

  • Altitude physiology of hypoxia and hypobaric decompression illness
  • Hypoxia awareness training of military and civilian aircrew
  • Postgraduate education in aerospace medicine for medical professionals

In his civilian clinical practice Gordon takes a particular interest in the management and certification of complex aeromedical cases, and education of aircrew in health, safety and performance issues.


Categories: Other

12
November
2013

Kidney stones - prevention and treatment

Kidney stones - prevention and treatment

Matthew Bultitude is a consultant urological surgeon practising at Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospital in London. He has a subspecialist interest in stone disease, and in this article he answers questions about the common problem of kidney stones.


Matt, how did you become interested in urological stone disease?

I was fortunate to work as a junior doctor in the stone unit at Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospital and following on from that I was offered a research position which I gladly took up. I undertook a number of clinical projects during that period including an MSc thesis assessing the safety of flexible ureteroscopy. I really enjoyed the challenges that stone disease creates and this has carried on throughout my career.


Do you see an increasing rate of stone disease in the UK, and what is the cause of this?

There is no doubt that there has been a steady increase in the number of stone cases in the western world and the UK is no exception. The lifetime risk may now be as high as 12% (American data) and although more common in men, they are becoming increasingly prevalent in women. This is essentially due to a combination of increasing obesity with poor diets (high in animal protein, fizzy drinks, processed foods, salt etc) and low fluid intake.


What have been the major developments in surgery for stone disease in the last few years?

I remember (as a boy with a urological father) when the first public lithotripter arrived in the UK (St. Thomas' Hospital) in the 1980's. This revolutionised stone treatment and continues to be a common treatment. What has changed over the last decade has been the development of smaller (diameter) and more robust instruments allowing us to pass telescopes up the urinary tract to the kidney to treat stones (flexible ureteroscopy). For large stones percutaneous surgery (PCNL) remains the standard and recent developments have seen some interesting changes to how this is done with smaller and smaller instruments and also in new surgical positions with many surgeons now choosing the supine position (so lying on side) rather than prone (lying on front).


Does shock wave therapy have an ongoing role in stone management?

There is no doubt that shock wave lithotripsy has been on the decline but in my opinion it is still a useful treatment for many patients. Choosing the correct stone for this treatment is important and as it works better in a thin patient with a smaller stone, rather than trying it in everyone. However I increasingly find patients prefer the more definitive choice of surgery with ureteroscopy to fragment the stone with a laser as although it is more invasive, the outcomes are more predictable.


Calcium oxalate stones are the most common kind of kidney stones. What is your advice to someone who has had a stone like this, to prevent future stone formation?

I often give quite detailed advice about stone prevention, although the summary of this is a normal healthy diet with lots of fluid (which is what we should all be doing!). In principal we should aim for a diet with:

- Enough fluid to produce at least 2 litres of urine per day. The actual amount will be different for everyone but usually a minimum of 2.5 litres in per day is required. This is the most important advice.

- Limited animal protein (meat and fish)

- Low salt

- Plenty of fruit and vegetables

- High fibre

- A normal calcium intake - so cutting back is often the wrong thing to do.

For calcium oxalate stone formers there are some foods high in oxalate and limiting intake of these may also help.


What developments do you see on the horizon for kidney stone treatment?

I think surgery will continue to improve with better quality and smaller instruments becoming available. Shockwave lithotripsy will probably continue to decline (as discussed above). What would be a game changer is the development of effective medication that could reduce the chance of stones growing in urine although I suspect we are many years away from this!


You can read more about Matt Bultitude by following these links to the Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospital website and the London Bridge Hospital website.

Click here for a link to his personal website.

You can also follow Matt Bultitude on twitter


Categories: Kidney Stones

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