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Wrightwood Medical Blog
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Breaking new ground (and kidney stones) with ultrasound

Michael Bailey, PhDNovel ultrasound-based techniques for propelling and breaking kidney stones could soon join ESWL and URS in the urologist’s treatment armamentarium. Michael Bailey, PhD, discusses how these technologies work, what they’re capable of, and where they are in development. Dr. Bailey is assistant professor of mechanical engineering and adjunct assistant professor of urology at the University of Washington, Seattle. Dr. Bailey was interviewed by Urology Times Editorial Consultant Stephen Y. Nakada, MD, The Uehling Professor and founding chairman of urology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

How did you become involved with stone disease?

I have a PhD in mechanical engineering, and I’ve studied sound. I’ve always had an interest in medical ultrasound. I’m on the Executive Council of the Acoustical Society of America, and I served on the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine’s Bioeffects Committee.

As someone interested in sound, I think shock wave lithotripsy is an amazing technology for breaking kidney stones. About 25 years ago, when lithotripsy was still new, I became involved with Dr. James Lingeman’s research group, studying who lithotripsy was most effective with and what its safety limits were. That research program, which was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, was a collaboration among clinicians, basic science anatomists, and biologists at Indiana University as well as shock wave physicists at the California Institute of Technology and engineers from the University of Washington who knew ultrasound and acoustics.