Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy

1. What is ESWL?

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is a minimally invasive procedure for urolithiasis. The use of shock wave is used to break the kidney stone into small fragments and these small pieces that can more easily travel through the urinary tract.


2. How it is done?

During ESWL, the patient is asked to lie on a water-filled cushion. After that, the surgeon uses X-rays or ultrasound to precisely locate the stone. High-energy sound waves are used to pass through the body without injuring it and break the stone into small pieces. These small pieces move through the urinary tract and out of the body more easily than a large stone. The process takes about an hour to be done. During the process, the patient may receive sedatives or local anesthesia. In addition, the surgeon may use a stent (a small, short tube of flexible plastic tube) to hold the ureter open when the stones are larger than 2.5cm. This may help the small stone pieces to pass without blocking the ureter.


3. Why is it done?

ESWL may be used on people with a kidney stone that is causing pain or blocking the urine flow. Stones that are between 4mm and 2cm in diameter are most likely to be treated with ESWL. ESWL may work best for kidney stones in the kidney but it may be harder for ESWL to break up a stone that has moved into the ureter, although this is still possible. ESWL is the most commonly used method because it is effective and does not require any surgery.


4. Possible Risk and complication?

Complications of ESWL include:

  • Pain caused by the passage of stone fragments.
  • Blocked urine flow as a result of stone fragments becoming stuck in the urinary tract. The fragments may then need to be removed with an ureteroscope.
  • Urinary tract infection.
  • Bleeding around the outside of the kidney.


5. Is ESWL for you?

A people may consider coronary artery bypass surgery if there is:

  • Dull, pain originating in the lower back or pelvis
  • Fever, disorientation
  • Signs of blood in the urine
  • Sharp, stabbing pains concentrated on one side of the lower back.


6. What are the alternatives?

Most of the stones may pass through the urinary tract on their own within 48 hours, with ample fluid intake. Besides that, some medications including calcium channel blockers are also one of the methods that are used to increase the passage rates of kidney stones. When other treatment methods are not effective, surgical techniques are the option to remove kidney stones. These techniques may be done through a small incision in the skin (percutaneous nephrolithotomy) or through an instrument known as an ureteroscope passed through the urethra and bladder up into the ureter.


7. What is the estimated cost?

To find out the estimated cost of the procedure, please visit the Real Cost Estimation page.