Lithotripsy Procedure for Kidney Stones


Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is a procedure used frequently to combat large kidney stones. The etymology breaks down into three elements. Extracorporeal refers to a procedure performed outside the body. The surgeon uses shock waves to break up the stones into smaller fragments.

Lithotripsy uses shock waves to break up kidney stones.

Lithotripsy uses shock waves to break up kidney stones.

Lithotripsy itself combines the English prefix litho- (of stone) and the Greek suffix -tripsis (rubbing). Hence, the literal translation is ‘rubbing of stone’.

ESWL, simply known as lithotripsy, requires extensive preparation. The patient changes into a hospital gown. He or she will lie on an operating table. A water-filled cushion will be underneath the patient’s back. Next, the surgeon will administer muscle relaxants and general anesthesia.

In the beginning, the surgeon sends high frequency sound waves through the body via an ultrasound or x-ray. These waves travel through the body until they locate the kidney stones and break them up into a grainy substance. This will allow the broken stones to easily pass through the urethra. The procedure usually lasts a minimum of 45 minutes.

Once the procedure ends, a tube known as a JJ stent connects to the ureter. The stent will allow the bladder to expel the gravel through urination. The urologist will remove the JJ stent once the kidney stone fragments have completely left the body.

After effects of lithotripsy include hyperuria (frequent urination), bleeding during urination, and back pain during urination. Patients must consult a urologist to determine whether lithotripsy is a viable option for treatment. Potential recipients must have a list of medications and inform the doctor of any medical conditions. Finally, patients must not drink any fluids in bulk eight hours before undergoing general anesthesia. Barring complications, lithotripsy will be an outpatient procedure.

For more information, please contact us.