Medicine: Blasting to Smithereens

Using sound waves to disintegrate painful kidney stones

Kidney stones are one of man's most common afflictions, and among the most agonizing. As many as one in ten American males and one in 40 women will eventually suffer excruciating pain caused by the accumulation of crystalline material in the kidneys. The incidence of the disease is two to three times higher in the Southeast U.S., which, for reasons unknown—perhaps diet, water supply or climate—has one of the highest rates of kidney stones in the world. Usually a stone will be spontaneously excreted by the...

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