After an eastern Chinese patient complained of intense pain in his abdomen a CT scan revealed his left kidney was completely full of mostly tiny kidney stones. Doctors later removed 420 stones from the kidney, blaming an excessive amount of tofu in his diet. The extensive and painful surgical procedure lasted about two hours.
The patient had a history of kidney stones having 10 stones previously removed by lithotripsy, which breaks up stones via shock waves till they are small enough to pass in the urine. The very high number of stones was attributed to the considerable presence of gypsum tofu, a popular local food, in the patient’s diet.
Wei Yubin, the chief surgeon, said that the kidney would have stopped working had Mr He delayed seeking medical attention any longer, and the kidney most likely removed. This time, the doctors used forceps to remove each stone one by one. “We spent 45 minutes just taking out the tiny stones,” said Dr Wei. “After the operation, my hands and legs were both numb.” Following the operation, Mr He took his stones home with him in a plastic bag.
Kidney stones (medical name nephrolithiasis) are not uncommon, and usually affect people aged 30 to 60 years. If the stones cause severe pain, this is known as renal colic. Most kidney stones are small enough, between 4 and 5mm in diameter, to be passed easily. According to the NHS (UK), renal colic affects about 10 to 20 percent of men and three to five percent of women.
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