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Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is the most frequently used procedure for the treatment of kidney stones. In ESWL, shock waves that are created outside the body travel through the skin and body tissues until they hit the denser stones. The stones break down into small particles and are easily passed through the urinary tract in the urine.

Several types of ESWL devices exist. Most devices use either x rays or ultrasound to help the surgeon pinpoint the stone during treatment. For most types of ESWL procedures, anesthesia is needed. In many cases, ESWL may be done on an outpatient basis. Recovery time is relatively short, and most people can resume normal activities in a few days.

Complications may occur with ESWL. Some patients have blood in their urine for a few days after treatment. Bruising and minor discomfort in the back or abdomen from the shock waves can occur. To reduce the risk of complications, doctors usually tell patients to avoid taking aspirin and other medicines that affect blood clotting for several weeks before treatment.

Sometimes, the shattered stone particles cause minor blockage as they pass through the urinary tract and cause discomfort. In some cases, the doctor will insert a small tube called a stent through the bladder into the ureter to help the fragments pass. Sometimes the stone is not completely shattered with one treatment, and additional treatments may be needed.

As with any interventional, surgical procedure, potential risks and complications should be discussed with the doctor before making a treatment decision.

References:

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC)

National Institutes of Health
NIH Publication No. 08-2495
Date: October 2007

AUAFoundation - The Official Foundation of the American Urological Association

NKDEP - National Kidney Disease Education Program

NKUDIC - National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases
Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC)Kidney and Urologic Diseases A-Z list of Topics and Titles

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"Dr. Worthen is an excellent doctor. He has cared for my husband since 2005, when he had kidney cancer. He has always been very professional and caring. And my husband is still cancer free. Great care."

Patient of Dr. Rodney Worthen • Enid, OK

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