Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy for Kidney Stones

Definition

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is a nonsurgical treatment for kidney stones . It uses high-energy shock waves to break the stones into tiny pieces. The pieces can then be passed with urine.

Kidney Stones
Kidney Stones
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Procedure

Lithotripsy is used to remove kidney stones that:

  • Are too large to pass
  • Cause constant pain
  • Block the flow of urine
  • Cause an ongoing infection
  • Damage kidney tissue
  • Cause bleeding

Most people who have lithotripsy for kidney stones are free of stones within three months of treatment. Patients with stones in the kidney and upper ureter have the most success with treatment. There may be fragments that are too large to pass after the procedure. They can be treated with lithotripsy again.

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Bruising in the back or abdomen
  • Pain as the stone fragments pass
  • Failure of stone fragments to pass, requiring additional surgery
  • Need for additional treatments
  • Reaction to anesthesia

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Bleeding disorders or taking medications that reduce blood clotting
  • Obesity
  • Skeletal deformities

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor may do the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Imaging studies to help locate the stones

Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, like:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen
  • Blood thinners
  • Anti-platelet medications

Anesthesia

Heavy sedation or general anesthesia is usually used. Heavy sedation will keep you calm. With general anesthesia, you will be asleep. It will help you remain still and avoid discomfort.

Description of the Procedure

You will be placed on a soft cushion on top of a table. Shock waves can be passed to the stones through this cushion.

X-rays or ultrasound will be used to locate the stone. Your body will be positioned to target the stone. Shock waves will be passed through the stones until they are crushed. They will be crushed into pieces as small as grains of sand.

How Long Will It Take?

45-60 minutes

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. There may be some pain and discomfort afterward from the passage of broken stones. There may also be some bruising on the area treated. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medication.

Postoperative Care

You will be able to move almost immediately after the procedure. Drink plenty of water in the weeks after the procedure to help the stone pieces pass.

Call Your Doctor

After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Extreme urge or inability to urinate
  • Excessive blood in your urine
  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medications you were given after the procedure
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

Revisions

All EBSCO Publishing proprietary, consumer health and medical information found on this site is accredited by URAC. URAC's Health Web Site Accreditation Program requires compliance with 53 rigorous standards of quality and accountability, verified by independent audits. To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at HLEditorialTeam@ebscohost.com.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
Copyright © 2008 EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.

One of the most important ways to take care of your skin is to protect it from the sun. A lifetime of sun exposure can cause wrinkles, age spots and other skin problems as well as increase the risk of skin cancer.