|Professor Tim Leighton from the University
of Southampton's world-renowned Institute of Sound and
Vibration Research (ISVR) and Dr Andrew Coleman, of Guy's and
St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust are developing with industry a
'smart stethoscope' for monitoring the effectiveness of
treatments to shatter kidney stones. |
The current procedure, called lithotripsy, focuses
thousands of shock waves onto kidney stones in an effort to
break them into small pieces which can then be dissolved by
drugs or passed from the body in urine. However, it is
difficult to discover exactly when the treatment has succeeded
in breaking the stone and patients frequently have to
experience more shocks than necessary.
The 'smart stethoscope' listens to the echoes, which
reverberate around the body after each shock wave. The device
has also been used clinically at the London hospitals Guys and
'It's an imperfect analogy, but consider a railwayman
walking along the length of a train, hitting the metal wheels
with a hammer,' explained Professor Leighton. 'If the wheel
rings nicely, he knows that it's not cracked. If the wheel is
cracked, it gives a duller sound.
'We are looking for the stone to go from being intact at
the start of treatment (when it will give a nice ring "tick"
sound) to being fragmented at the end of the treatment (when
it will give a duller "tock" sound).'
A website containing recordings of these sounds, and other
information on the project, is at http://www.hero.ac.uk/media_relations/"http://www.isvr.soton.ac.uk/fdag/litho.htm"
In addition to Professor Leighton and Dr Coleman, the team
involved Dr Paul White of ISVR, Graham Ball of AWE, PhD
students Fiammetta Fedele, Riza Jamaluddin and Cary Turangan
and Andrew Hurrell of Precision Acoustics Ltd.
Commercial negotiations between the inventors, the
University's Centre for Enterprise and Innovation and
manufacturers of lithotripters are underway. The project was
funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research