Lithotripsy is a noninvasive procedure that uses shock waves to break up stones in the kidney, bladder, or ureter. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is the most commonly used lithotripsy, meaning that the procedure is completed outside of the body.
Patients may be given medication to help cause relaxation and ease pain, or they may require anesthesia. During the procedure, the patient will lie on an exam table, on top of a soft, water filled cushion. High energy shock waves, guided by ultra sound or x-ray, will pass through the body, hitting the kidney stones. Those waves break apart the kidney stones, making them easy to pass. A tube may be placed through your bladder or back into your kidney. This tube will drain urine from your kidney until all the small pieces of stone pass out of your body. The process takes less than an hour, and patients are generally able to return home the same day.
Lithotripsy is generally considered a safe medical procedure. However, tell your doctor if you experience bleeding, kidney infections, ulcers in the stomach, or issues with kidney function after the procedure.
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