Kidney stones can be horrible for those that experience them. They can become lodged inside the kidneys or in the ureter tube between the kidneys and the bladder. Conventional methods for treating them may involve breaking the stones into tiny pieces to allow them to simply exit the body in the urine. This would be achieved by either a manual process involving a thin tube fed through the bladder into the ureter or with the help of ultrasound shock waves from outside the body. Neither method guarantees that fragments are not left behind to develop again. In some cases, surgery may be required.
Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have been working on a new method, though, that would use ultrasound as well. However, they are not breaking the stones with ultrasound. Rather, this team is using the ultrasound to guide the stones past where they may have become stuck to allow the body to pass them naturally. More important, this method would likely eliminate the potential for leaving behind fragments to start building new stones.