If you have a kidney stone, you're probably all too
familiar with the excruciating pain it can cause. Fortunately,
a treatment called lithotripsy can help. Also known
as ESWL (extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy), this
noninvasive procedure helps your body ride itself of
the kidney stone with a minimum of pain.
What is lithotripsy?
Lithotripsy is a method of crushing a kidney stone
while it's still inside your body. It's a noninvasive
that doesn't require incisions. During lithotripsy,
carefully directed shock waves pass harmlessly through
your body and hit the stone, causing it to crumble
into sand-like particles. These particles can then
out of your urinary tract.
Complications of lithotripsy are rare, but include the
- Bleeding of the kidneys
- Bruising of the kidneys or skin
- Obstruction of the ureter (the
passageway from the kidney to the bladder)
- Failure of the stone to fragment
The lithotripsy procedure, which takes about an hour,
is done in a hospital, lithotripsy center, or mobile
lithotripsy van. It usually doesn't require an overnight
hospital stay. Your doctor or a nurse can instruct you
on how to prepare for the procedure and explain what
to expect afterward.
A stent (flexible tube with holes) may be placed in
your ureter before the procedure to help keep urine
following from the kidneys. You may receive an intravenous
(IV) line to give your fluids and medications. These
medications may help relax your or make you sleep. You
lie comfortably on a fluid -filled cushion or in a warm-water
bath. An x-ray or ultrasound find the exactly location
of your kidney stone. Then shock waves are aimed at
the stone and sent at high speed. If you're awake, you
may feel a tapping sensation as the shock waves pass
harmlessly through your body. If large stone particles
remain after treatment, a second procedure may be necessary
at a later time.
After the Procedure
After the procedure, you'll be monitored in a recovery
room for about one to three hours. You maybe prescribed
antibiotics to help prevent infection and pain medication
if you need it. In a week or two, your doctor may remove
your stent, if you have one, and check whether any stone
Passing the Stone
It may take anywhere form a day to several weeks for
the stone particles to leave your body. During this
time, drink plenty of liquids. It's normal for your
urine to be cloudy or slightly blood for a few weeks.
You may even see small pieces of stone in your urine.
A slight fever and some pain are also normal. Your doctor
may ask you to strain your urine to collect some stone
particles for chemical analysis.
When to Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you have any of the following:
are kidney stones?
- Fever over 100.4 degrees F
- Heavy bleeding
- Pain not relieved by pain medications
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty urinating
The kidney's job is to filter chemicals that the body
can't use out of the blood. When your two kidneys are
healthy, waste chemicals dissolve in the urine and are
carried out of your body. But under certain circumstances,
chemicals in the urine may form crystals. These crystals
build up in the kidney and stick together to form a
stone. Kidney stones may block the flow of urine through
the urinary track, causing sever pain.
Prevent Future Stones
After your kidney stone has been treated, takes these
steps to prevent future stones:
Drink lots of water, about 8 to 12 eight-ounce glasses
Follow the diet your doctor recommends.
Take your prescribed medications.
See your doctor regularly for checkups.
Notice: Information on this web site is provided for informational
purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You
should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating
a medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical
problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.