Discusses extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), a procedure that uses shock waves to break a kidney stone into smaller pieces. Covers how it is done and what to expect after treatment. Covers risks.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) for Kidney Stones
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL)
uses shock waves to break a
kidney stone into small pieces that can more easily
travel through the
urinary tract and pass from the body.
You lie on a water-filled cushion, and the
surgeon uses X-rays or ultrasound tests to precisely locate the stone.
High-energy sound waves pass through your body without injuring it and break
the stone into small pieces. These small pieces move through the urinary tract
and out of the body more easily than a large stone.
Your surgeon may use a
stent if you have a large stone. A stent is a
small, short tube of flexible plastic mesh that holds the
ureter open. This helps the small stone pieces to pass
without blocking the ureter.
What To Expect After Treatment
ESWL is usually an
outpatient procedure. You go home after the treatment
and do not have to spend a night in the hospital.
After ESWL, stone fragments usually
pass in the urine for a few days and cause mild pain. If you have a larger
stone, you may need more ESWL or other treatments.
Why It Is Done
ESWL may be used on a person who has a
kidney stone that is causing pain or blocking the urine flow. Stones that are
between 4 mm (0.16 in.) and
2 cm (0.8 in.) in diameter are
most likely to be treated with ESWL.
ESWL may work best for kidney
stones in the kidney or in the part of the ureter close to the kidney. Your
surgeon may try to push the stone back into the kidney with a small instrument
(ureteroscope) and then use ESWL.
ESWL is usually not used if
Are pregnant. The sound waves and X-rays may be
harmful to the
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.