Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy is a non-invasive procedure for treating kidney and ureteral stone disease. It uses high-energy shock waves that are passed through the body to break ureteral and kidney stones into smaller fragments. These fragments then easily exit the body while passing urine due to their small size. The focused sound waves or ultrasonic energy used by ESWL are generated by a machine called a lithotripter.
Kidney stones are solid salt and mineral deposits that develop inside a person’s kidney.
Common symptoms of kidney stones include:
Based on your symptoms and stone characteristics the surgeon might offer ESWL to treat your kidney stones.
Before the ESWL procedure is carried out, you will be given instructions on what to do in order to make the process more seamless. These includes a fasting period, especially if the procedure requires general anesthesia. You will need to fast for six hours prior to the procedure, and only water is allowed two hours prior. You might also need to undergo a series of tests including:
Additionally, you also need to inform the surgeon about their medical history. If you are taking any form of medication or supplements, as well as if you have any allergies.
During the procedure
The surgeon follows the following steps during the ESWL procedure:
After the procedure
After the procedure, you will be discharged to go home after recovery from anesthetics. you are encouraged to drink more water to dilute the urine and reduce the discomfort of passing the stone fragments. You might notice traces of blood in the urine for a few days.
When the fragments are passing, pain may be experienced, which starts soon after treatment and could last for up to four to eight weeks. Taking oral painkillers and drinking a lot of water will help relieve symptoms.
Most individuals can fully resume daily activities within one to two days after the procedure.
Just like any other surgical procedure, Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy may present some complications, although rare. These include:
The benefits of ESWL, as compared to other methods of kidney stones treatment include: