Passing a kidney stone can be very painful. Shock wave lithotripsy is a treatment that helps by breaking the kidney stone into smaller pieces that are easier to pass. This treatment is also called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). Lithotripsy takes about an hour. It’s done in a hospital, lithotripsy center, or mobile lithotripsy van. You will likely go home the same day.
Preparing for this procedure
Your doctor may provide you with specific instructions prior to your procedure.
How this procedure is performed
During the Procedure
- You receive medication to prevent pain and help you relax or sleep during lithotripsy. Once this takes effect, the procedure will start.
- A stent (flexible tube with holes in it) may be placed into your ureter (the tube that connects the kidney and the bladder). This helps keep urine flowing from the kidney.
- Your healthcare provider then uses x-ray or ultrasound to find the exact location of the kidney stone.
- Sound waves are aimed at the stone and sent at high speed. If you’re awake, you may feel a tapping as they pass through your body.
After the Procedure
- You’ll be monitored in a recovery room for about 1–3 hours. Antibiotics and pain medication may be prescribed before you leave.
- You’ll have a follow-up visit in a few weeks. If you received a stent, it will be removed. Your doctor will also check for pieces of stone. If large pieces remain, you may need a second lithotripsy or another procedure.
CPG Physicians who perform this procedure
Vincent M. Fiorica, MD
Richard W. Pidutti, MD
Shiban K, Warikoo, MD