Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)

With new and advanced treatments like extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, our doctors are able to reduce the pain caused by kidney stones and get you back to enjoying your everyday life.

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL), also known as lithotripsy, uses focused shockwaves to break kidney stones into tiny pieces that can then be easily passed through urine.

The procedure takes place over the course of an hour. The procedure may induce some pain, so patients are given pain medicine or a spinal anesthetic should they find the procedure discomforting.  

Before the ESWL procedure, X-rays are used to pinpoint the exact location of stones within the kidney. If the kidney stones are severe and large, a stent may also be placed in the urinary tract to prevent obstruction.

During the procedure, patients lie on a special lithotripsy table attached to a lithotripter. The lithotripter sends cone-shaped shockwaves into the body. 

Using fluoroscopic X-ray imaging techniques, surgeons focus the tip of the coned shock wave directly on the kidney stone. Every subsequent shock wave helps break the stone into smaller and smaller pieces. These pieces are then easily passed through the urine. 

After the procedure, your surgeon will provide a follow-up to determine if the kidney stone has been entirely removed. 

Lithotripsy is a non-invasive and safe procedure, though it does carry certain risks. These include discomfort, urinary bleeding, bruising, as well as postoperative pain. There is also a slight risk of radiation exposure due to the use of X-ray imaging.