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18 Aug 2017

University PhD student hopes to make a breakthrough in kidney stone research
 
A PhD student at the University of Chester is hoping to make a breakthrough in how patients who have received kidney stone surgery are cared for.
 
alyson moyes.jpg
Caption: Alyson Moyes and Dr Stephen Hughes.
 
Alyson Moyes, who also completed her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science at the University of Chester, has used her PhD work to undertake a clinical research project aimed at monitoring the changes that occur to patients undergoing Flexible Ureterenoscopy Surgery (FURS) for the treatment of kidney stones.
 
Flexible Ureterenoscopy Surgery (FURS) is the treatment for small stones within the kidney, where a thin and flexible telescope is passed into the bladder and up into the ureter (the tube which connects the kidney to the bladder). A laser is then passed up the telescope and it is then used to shatter the kidney stone(s).
 
The results of Alyson’s pilot study, which demonstrated several changes to routine blood tests following FURS, have recently been published in the science journal, PLOS ONE.
 
Her work is being carried out in collaboration with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), North Wales and North West Urological Research Centre (NW2URC), based at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital, in North Wales. Her supervisor at the University is Dr Stephen Fôn Hughes, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences, and the external advisor to the work is Mr Iqbal Shergill, Consultant Urological Surgeon, in the Department of Urology at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
 
Alyson explains more about her research: “Currently there is limited research documenting the changes in blood parameters, following FURS. ‘Blood parameters’ refer to the different cell groups which make up whole blood - a full blood count measures lots of different cell types within its ‘parameters’ such as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Primarily, our study aimed to determine whether there are any changes to routine blood and biochemistry blood markers, following Flexible Ureterorenoscopy, for the treatment of kidney stones.
 
“We have recruited 40 patients undergoing FURS and took a series of blood samples from each patient at four time points: baseline (ie before the operation), followed by 30 minutes, two hours and four hours after the operation. From this study, significant changes to several routine blood parameters of all patients surveyed following FURS were observed.”
 
She added: “On the whole, it is believed that the findings of this study may reflect the ‘normal’ post-operative response following FURS, as no major complications occurred, in the majority of the patients surveyed.
 
“Ultimately, this is a pilot clinical-study, which, by its nature, is limited by its sample size - I am already undertaking further research, expanding on this topic. However, if changes to blood markers following FURS can identify or predict those patients at increased risk (from infection and bleeding), future directions of this study may offer the potential to guide practice, with the introduction of point-of-care testing to predict those patients at increased risk of complications, allowing for pre-emptive interventions to be implemented.”
 
Dr Stephen Hughes added: “The work undertaken by Alyson has provided an insight to the ‘normal physiological’ response following FURS, for the treatment of kidney stones. The work has been presented at national and international meetings, and has been well received by leading clinicians, with specialist interests in stone disease.
 
“The next steps for NW2URC will be to expand on this work and to undertake a multi-centre study, which may provide substantial evidence for changing current clinical practice, for the monitoring of patients undergoing FURS for the treatment of kidney stones.”