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Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy for Kidney Stones
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What are Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy for Kidney Stones?

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

Kidney Stones
Kidney Stone
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have this procedure, your doctor will review a list of possible complications which may include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Bruising in the back or abdomen
  • Infection
  • 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 medicines that reduce blood clotting
  • Obesity
  • Skeletal deformities
  • Presence of a pacemaker
  • Presence of a dilated aorta ( aneurysm )

Call Your Doctor

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