A 27-year-old man has become one of the first patients in the UK to have his kidney stones removed using "micro instruments" which are only millimetres in size.
Doctors used the 3.5mm apparatus to remove Graham Edgley's kidney stones.
Medics hope that using the instrument, which is 70% smaller than the conventional kit, will mean that patients can be treated in a day rather than having to stay in hospital for two or three days. It will typically only leave a 3mm scar, compared to the 1cm scar left after laparoscopic surgical equipment is used.
Surgeons at The Royal London Hospital, who are the first in the UK to use the apparatus, believe the minuscule equipment will be suitable for half of the patients requiring the removal of kidney stones.
The 3.5mm micro-instrument is fitted with a 1mm telescope to locate the stones in the kidney. Once in position, a tiny laser is inserted into the instrument which targets the stones and breaks them up into minuscule fragments. A jet of saline is sent through the instrument to wash out the area, and the fragments are suctioned up for disposal.
Mr Edgley, a medical research technician from Stratford, east London, suffered "excruciating" pain for seven months before being admitted to The Royal London to undergo the procedure.
He said: "I have a medical condition that predisposes me to kidney stones. It has been really painful and affected my concentration at work and meant I was constantly taking tablets to control the pain. Following surgery, I was a little bit sore for the first two days but I was back on my feet pretty much straight away.
"The scar is very, very small. You have to look really closely to see it. I was keen to have this new procedure as it is a lot cleaner and more hygienic than the older operation where stones are broken up and instead of being suctioned out, which is how this new method works, are scooped up with the risk of bits being left behind."
Barts Health consultant urological surgeon, Noor Buchholz, said: "We are very excited to be the first hospital trust in the UK to use these new micro-instruments and believe they will be suitable for use in around half the patients requiring the removal of kidney stones."
Urologist Dr Janak Desai, who invented the micro equipment, added: "Hospitals will save thousands of pounds using these instruments. The additional disposable items required during surgery cost just £100 compared to £600 using the conventional method."