Lithotripsy is a procedure that uses shock waves to break up stones in the kidney and parts of the ureter (tube that carries urine from your kidneys to your bladder). After the procedure, the tiny pieces of stones pass out of your body in your urine.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is the most common type of lithotripsy. “Extracorporeal” means outside the body.
To get ready for the procedure, you will put on a hospital gown and lie on an exam table on top of a soft, water-filled cushion. You will not get wet.
You will be given medicine for pain or to help you relax before the procedure starts. You will also be given antibiotics.
When you have the procedure, you may be given general anesthesia for the procedure. You will be asleep and pain-free.
High-energy shock waves, also called sound waves, guided by x-ray or ultrasound, will pass through your body until they hit the kidney stones. If you are awake, you may feel a tapping feeling when this starts. The waves break the stones into tiny pieces.
The lithotripsy procedure should take about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
A tube called a stent may be placed through your back or bladder into your kidney. This tube will drain urine from your kidney until all the small pieces of stone pass out of your body. This may be done before or after your lithotripsy treatment.
Lithotripsy is used to remove kidney stones that are causing:
• Damage to your kidney
• Urinary tract infections
Not all kidney stones can be removed using lithotripsy.
The stone may also be removed with:
• A tube (endoscope) inserted into the kidney through a small surgical cut in the back.
• A small lighted tube (ureteroscope) inserted through the bladder into ureters. Ureters are the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder.
• Open surgery (rarely needed).