Kidney Stones Home > Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy
Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy is the most commonly prescribed treatment for kidney stones. The technique uses shockwaves to break up stones so that they can easily pass through the urinary tract. Most people can resume normal activities within a few days. Complications of extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy include blood in the urine, bruising, and minor discomfort in the back or abdomen.
Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL) is the most frequently used procedure for the treatment of kidney stones. ESWL uses shock waves to break up kidney stones so that they can easily pass through the urinary tract.
In extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy, shockwaves that are created outside the body travel through the skin and body tissues until they hit the denser kidney stones. After the stones have been hit, they will break down into sand-like particles that are easily passed through the urinary tract in the urine.
Types of Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy
There are several types of extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy devices. One type of device requires the person to lie in a water bath while the shockwaves are transmitted. Another type of device requires the person to lie on a soft cushion. Most devices use x-rays or ultrasounds to help surgeons pinpoint the stone during treatment. For most types of ESWL procedures, anesthesia is required.
In most cases, extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy may be done on an outpatient basis because recovery time is short. Most people can resume normal activities a few days after the procedure.