Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) uses shock waves to break a kidney stone into small pieces that can more easily travel through the urinary tract camera and pass from the body.
You lie on a water-filled cushion, and the surgeon uses X-rays or ultrasound tests to precisely locate the stone. High-energy sound waves pass through your 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.
You may receive sedatives or local anesthesia. Your surgeon may use a stent when your stones are larger than 2.5 cm (1 in.). A stent is a small, short tube of flexible plastic mesh that holds the ureter open. This helps the small stone pieces to pass without blocking the ureter.