Kidney stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract. When urine becomes very concentrated, small hard crystals form inside your kidney. If a stone breaks free of your kidney, it can travel through, and get lodged in, other narrower passages of your urinary tract, such as the bladder, ureters and urethra. When a kidney stone becomes too large or painful to pass on its own, your doctor may recommend treatment using extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), also simply known as lithotripsy.
Kidney stone symptoms often include:
Common risk factors include:
Using high-energy sound waves known as “shock waves”, lithotripsy sends high-energy sound waves through your body, targeted directly at your kidney stones. These “shock waves” pass painlessly through your body’s soft tissues to break the stones into small, sand-like particles. Once broken up, the smaller stone fragments can more easily travel through your urinary tract and get passed in your urine.
Since lithotripsy is non-invasive—meaning that an incision is not required—you benefit from less discomfort, a shorter procedure time, fewer complications and a faster recovery, compared to traditional surgical methods. In most cases, the lithotripsy procedure itself takes just 30-45 minutes, and you’re able to go home the same day.
Learn more about what to expect with lithotripsy.