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Center eases patients’ discomfort

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About 16 to 26 kilo-volts worth.The borough finally caught up with the rest of New York City when Metro Litho opened its Fresh Meadows lithotripsy center in the Utopia Center in January."Patients residing in or near Queens will now have at their disposal a very comfortable, state-of-the-art treatment center conveniently located in their neighborhood," said David Mandel, president of the Manhattan-based Metropolitan Lithotriptor.Previously, either the non-surgical treatment provider had to haul their equipment by van to Queens hospitals from their centers in Manhattan, White Plains and Long Island or borough urologists and their patients had to come to them.Now, Metro Litho, which still mobilizes at 18 metro-area hospitals, has planted a 5,800 square-foot center at Utopia Parkway and Union Turnpike, easing both commuting time and the nerves of residents who fear going under the knife. The procedure itself, described Metro Litho spokeswoman Jodie Corngold, "pounds a stone into gravel" using bursts of localized electricity as the hammer.Ron Gerbing, the specialist who operates the lithotripter, elaborated.Under the watchful eye of a urologist, a lightly sedated patient lies down on the bed, the side with the infected kidney resting on top of the Plenum - a bladderlike pouch that is filled with de-ionized water.Inside the Plenum is an electrode, essentially a spark plug, which bombards the stone that Gerbing has bull's-eyed using a fluoroscopy, or live x-ray.Most stones break up with only one session, Gerbing said, although a very few, such as a "stag-horn" (over three centimeters in diameter), could require additional zaps and even surgery."Patients are always saying that passing a kidney stone is like giving birth," said Kristy Biswas, the center's nurse. "It's excruciating."By pulverizing the mineral deposits, lithotripsy can make the ordeal a lot less unpleasant. And unlike surgery, the patient is at no risk for infection and experiences only mild discomfort following an hourlong recovery, Biswas said.In addition to the center's shock wave method, which also cures tennis elbow, Metro Litho offers microwave therapy - a worthy alternative, Corngold said, to impotence-inducing drugs for those who urinate too much due to an oversized prostate.Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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