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Lithotripsy (ESWL – Kidney Stone Blasting)

The Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) technique uses sound waves (also called shock waves) to break a kidney stone into very small pieces that can more easily travel through the urinary tract and out of the body

ESWL may be used on a person who has a kidney stone that is causing pain or blocking the urine flow. Stones that are between 4 mm (0.16 in.) and 2 cm (0.8 in.) in diameter are most likely to be treated with ESWL

ESWL may work best for kidney stones in the kidney or in the part of the ureter close to the kidney. Your surgeon may try to push the stone back into the kidney with a small instrument (ureteroscope) and then use ESWL

ESWL is usually not used if you:

  • Are pregnant. The sound waves and X-rays may be harmful to the fetus
  • Have a bleeding disorder
  • Have a kidney infection, urinary tract infection, or kidney cancer
  • Have kidneys with abnormal structure or function