What is lithotripsy and is it Safe

It is a procedure using sound waves method to treat kidney system stones non surgically. Sound waves are passed into the body from an external source without any need of cut or insertion. These focused sound waves fragment the hard stone into fine particles which eventually pass out mixed with urine giving the urine a muddy texture and feel.

  1. This method uses high energy sound waves to break large kidney stones into small pieces.
  2. This method is also called ESWL. Which means extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy
  3. This whole method takes up to 45 minutes. The patient will be given mild painkillers or iv analgesics so no pain is felt.during the procedure.
  4. No cuts are made in this method. After this method, you should drink plenty of water so that the small pieces of stone are flushed out through urine.
  5. Recovery in this procedure is fast as no bed rest is needed and you can do daily activities during the sessions , however the number of sessions vary depending on size of stones.

It is very important that your urine remains free of infection prior to ESWL.

  • A few tests should be done before this procedure that are EKG (electrocardiogram), CBC (complete blood count), Urinalysis and Urine culture.
  • The best advantage of this procedure is that the kidney stones are removed without surgery. This method has helped up to 90 per cent of patients.

ESWL has proven to be very safe over decades of use and experience, there are potential risks that patients must be aware of which include:

  • Mild Bleeding .which will be transient as there can be blood visible in urine after the procedure . This is relatively harmless and is self-limiting.
  • An infection which is rare as no surgery is performed although the patient needs to be on antibiotics to prevent kidney inand urinary tract infection.
  • This can present with mild or high fever and chills and this should be intimated to the urologist for treatment.
  • There are minimal risks as in every medical procedure, though they are very mild and include mild pain while passing the stone fragments, urinary infection, and bleeding which is mild. 

Conclusion: ESWL is a safe method and beneficial for kidney stones. This is the first choice of many doctors and patients for kidney stone treatment. Proper patient selection is needed for best results and invasive procedures can be avoided for treatment of kidney stones in suitable patients who are fit for ESWL.

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