Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy
Contact Us: (632) 723-0101 ext. 5425
Location: Stone and Prostate Treatment Center
Kidney stones are crystals of dissolved minerals in urine found inside the kidneys or ureters (muscular tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder). They vary in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. Kidney stones less than 5 mm in size typically leave the body spontaneously via the urine stream. However, kidney stones larger than 5 mm may obstruct a ureter resulting in urinary tract infection and causing severe pain most commonly felt in the lower back, lower abdomen, and groin.
St. Luke’s Medical Center offers an effective, safe, and painless way to get rid of kidney stones—extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL).
What is ESWL?
ESWL is a non-surgical procedure that uses sound waves (also called shock waves) generated outside the patient’s body and then focused on the stone within the kidney or ureter. The sound waves break the kidney stone into small pieces so that these can more easily travel through the urinary tract and pass from the body or grasped and removed using special probes. St. Luke’s urologists use an imaging technique (fluoroscopy or ultrasound) to guide them while performing ESWL.
As a rule, stones smaller than 10 mm are best treated with ESWL. For stones between 10 mm to 20 mm in size, ESWL is still the first-line treatment unless certain factors (stone composition or location, kidney anatomy) shift the balance towards surgical but definite treatment modalities, such as percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PNL) or retrograde intrarenal surgery (RIRS). PNL is the primary treatment for kidney stones bigger than 20 mm unless specific indications for RIRS are present (bleeding tendency, obesity, etc).
Safe with high success rate
The success of ESWL depends on several factors, such as stone location, stone composition, stone size, patient's body characteristics and risk factors, pain management, treatment strategies, and the shock wave parameters. The procedure may be more effective if no anatomical structure blocks the shock wave path or if the kidney stone is accurately located and aligned with the therapy focus of the shock wave source.
St. Luke’s urologists weigh a variety of factors to determine a treatment protocol. These include the number, size, location and suspected composition of the stones, the age and health status of the patient, and the type of lithotripter (shock wave machine) being used.
ESWL is a well-established and common procedure for the treatment of urinary stones, with a high success rate and low incidence of adverse effects.
What to expect after the procedure
Most ESWL patients are treated as outpatients in a single session with or without anesthesia. You go home after the treatment and do not have to spend a night in the hospital. It may take a few days or weeks for all the stone fragments to pass from your body. You may experience mild pain as the small fragments pass through your urinary tract.
Why choose St. Luke’s
St. Luke’s Medical Center has done the most number of ESWL procedures in the country.