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Extracoporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL)

By DuPage Medical Group Urology

Extracoporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL)

Lithotripsy is a medical procedure that uses shock waves to break up stones in the kidney, bladder, or 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.

You will wear a medical gown and lie on an exam table on top of a soft, water-filled cushion. You will be given a mild sedative or pain medicine before the procedure starts. You will also be given antibiotics before the procedure starts to prevent infection.

High-energy shock waves, also called sound waves, will pass through your body until they hit the kidney stones. You may feel a tapping sensation when this starts. The waves break the stones into tiny pieces.

The lithotripsy procedure generally takes 45 minutes to 1 hour.

A tube may be placed through your back and into your kidney. This tube will drain urine from your kidney until all the small pieces of stone pass out of your body. The tube may be put in place before or after your lithotripsy treatment.

Why the Procedure is Performed

Lithotripsy is used to remove kidney stones that are causing:


•Urinary tract infections


•Harm to your kidney


Lithotripsy is generally safe. Ask your doctor about these possible complications.

•Pieces of stone are left in your body. You may need more treatments.

•Bleeding around your kidney may require a blood transfusion.

•Your kidneys may not work as well, or they may stop working, after the procedure.

•You may get ulcers in your stomach or small intestine.

•Pieces of the stone may block urine flow from your kidney. This may cause severe pain or damage to your kidney.

•Kidney infection may occur.

Topics and Subtopics: Kidney Disease

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