S.I.U. / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY S.I.U. / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Treatment of kidney stones using lithotripsy, a non- invasive technique that uses ultrasound waves to break the stones down into smaller fragments that may be more readily excreted. The patient is immersed in a water bath, along with the two cylindrical sound sources that focus sound waves into the kidneys in a series of repeated "blasts". Urinary stones are formed by the precipitation of mineral ions (notably calcium, as oxalate and phosphate) contained in urine. Normal urine contains polymer substances which inhibit crystal growth and prevents stones from growing to a size where they are too large to be expelled in the flow of urine.
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