Alfredo Feels Light as Air Following
Record-Size Bladder Stone Removal
by David Modica | January 6, 2017
For 50 years, Alfredo R. suffered from the effects of a rapidly growing bladder stone. By the time he finally agreed to have it surgically removed at 67 years old, it had grown to the record size of nearly 12 centimeters. Luckily, the expert urology team at Swedish Covenant Hospital was ready and capable to meet the challenge.
Alfred began to notice the effects of the bladder stone at 17 years old. The symptoms were originally fairly mild, consisting of discomfort and minor pain and a smaller bladder capacity, resulting in frequent trips to the bathroom.
Around the time he started a family, these grew in intensity and he developed more troubling side effects. Alfredo visited a local hospital in his province in the Philippines. They discovered the bladder stone, at that time roughly the side of a seed. Against doctor’s advice Alfredo opted out of surgery and decided to try a more holistic remedy.
“We used herbal medication made from the milk of a young coconut,” said Verbina, Alfredo’s wife. “It helped his symptoms, but it couldn’t cure the underlying issue.”
By the time he and his wife had moved to the U.S. in 2008, shortness of breath, exhaustion and extreme pain were becoming an everyday occurrence. Unknown to him and his family, the bladder stone was affecting his body’s ability to rid itself of waste.
Then, one day while walking with Verbina, Alfredo found himself hardly able to breathe. The episode frightened them both, and they decided that they could not wait any longer to seek treatment.
“I told him if he didn’t take care of this right now he may not be around much longer,” said Verbina. “He knew I was right and he finally agreed that he would do whatever it took to take care of it once and for all.”
Although Alfredo had not yet seen a doctor in the U.S., they knew just where to go. “We had heard of Swedish Covenant Hospital,” said Verbina. “We heard that the staff here is compassionate and the doctors are talented. Everyone we knew encouraged us to come here.”
At Swedish Covenant Hospital, Diagnostic Radiologist Dr. Umayal Sawardekar discovered a severe obstruction of the kidneys by ultrasound, which prompted the completion of a CT scan. Dr. Todd Schirmang, a diagnostic radiologist, discovered the source of the obstruction. The image revealed that the bladder stone had grown to a diameter of almost 12 centimeters.
Due to the severity of the obstruction, time was of the essence. Using a minimally invasive procedure, Dr. Schirmang placed percutaneous tubes to divert the urine from Alfredo’s obstructed urinary system, which was able to stabilize his condition in preparation for surgical removal of the stone.
Dr. Steven Koopman, a urologist with Swedish Covenant Medical Group, explained to the couple that surgery was the only option. The stone had obstructed removal of waste by the urinary tract. Alfredo would need to have surgery immediately followed by dialysis in the hopes that they could get the kidneys back to their normal function.
“The doctors were amazing,” said Verbina. “When I first saw Dr. Koopman, he said, ‘We’re glad you came to us and we will do our best to take good care of you.’ He put me at ease immediately. On the surgery day, I told them to take a picture. I couldn’t believe it until I saw!”
The surgery was a success, and the stone was removed without complication by Dr. Koopman and Dr. Matthew Meadows. Through dialysis and further treatment, the urology team hopes that Alfredo will recover kidney function. In the meantime, he is happy to be experiencing less pain and feeling one very large bladder stone lighter.
“I am thankful to Dr. Koopman, Dr. Meadows and everyone who assisted,” said Alfredo. “They are all nice, compassionate people.”
“Alfredo was very pale and tired before,” said Verbina. “His face is already better and full of life!”
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Steven G. Koopman, M.D.
, is a urologist and member of the medical staff at Swedish Covenant Hospital. His specialties include robotic surgery.
Matthew Meadows, M.D.
, is a board-certified urologist and member of the medical staff at Swedish Covenant Hospital. He specializes in robotic surgery with 12 years of experience.