What to Expect

What To Expect

Lithotripsy is a quick, effective way to treat kidney stones. We understand that you may have lots of questions about what this procedure entails. By letting you know about what to expect, we hope to help put your mind at ease.   

Before Your Treatment

What you need to know about preparing for lithotripsy:

  • Some lab tests will be required, which will vary depending on your age, existing medical conditions, and medications that you’re currently taking.
  • Your doctor will provide you with instructions, including limitations on eating and drinking, as well as medications to discontinue, prior to treatment.
  • Since you’ll be under general anesthesia for your treatment, you’ll need to pre-arrange for a friend or family member to take you home.

During Your Treatment

What you can expect during your lithotripsy treatment:

  • For maximum comfort, you’ll lie on a water-filled bed.
  • You’ll be given general anesthesia so that you’re comfortably asleep.
  • We’ll use X-rays to precisely locate your stone just prior to treatment.
  • Your urologist will then use the lithotripter to direct high-energy sound waves through your body to break up the stone into small pieces.
  • Throughout the procedure, your urologist will monitor the fragmentation of your kidney stone, using highly specialized video x-ray equipment.
  • Treatment typically lasts 30-45 minutes, after which you’ll remain in the recovery area until your anesthesia wears off.

After Your Treatment

During your recovery, you may experience:

  • Discomfort for the first few days in the kidney area 
  • Minor bruising on your back where the waves passed through your skin
  • Some blood tinges in your urine for the first 24-48 hours after treatment
  • Passing of stone fragments, typically within 24 hours but sometimes longer

You may resume a light to normal diet, as you feel hungry. Be sure to drink at least one to two quarts of water daily and avoid alcohol for the first 24-48 hours. If you experience a fever, uncontrollable pain or vomiting, contact your doctor right away.

Preventing Future Kidney Stones

After your procedure, it’s very important to follow a kidney-friendly diet to prevent the recurrence of kidney stones. Below are some suggested dietary guidelines to follow:

  • Stay hydrated, ideally drinking one to two quarts of water daily.
  • Avoid oxalate-rich foods (such as spinach, beets, tea, chocolate, strawberries, nuts).
  • Reduce sodium intake to 2-3 grams/day.
  • Avoid processed foods (hot dogs, deli meats, etc.).
  • Eat meat in moderation, limiting to 4-6 ounces daily.
  • Increase consumption of citrus, particularly lemons.

Following your lithotripsy procedure, it’s highly recommended that you consult with a registered dietician who can help you create the right diet plan for you, unique to your needs. Learn more about our Nutrition Services.