Lithotripsy is a procedure for removing kidney stones too large to pass through the urinary tract. Lithotripsy treats kidney stones by sending focused ultrasonic energy or shock waves directly to the stones after they have been detected using fluoroscopy (X-rays to obtain real-time moving images) or ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves). The shock waves disintegrate a large stone into smaller pieces of stones that can pass through the urinary system. It allows people with specific urinary stones to avoid invasive surgical stone removal.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is the most common type of lithotripsy. "Extracorporeal" refers to the outside of the body. Your doctor must be able to view the stones under X-ray or ultrasound to aim the waves.
Kidney stones cause pain, bleeding, damage to the kidney and urinary tract infections.
When substances excreted by the kidneys remain in the urinary tract, they can crystallize and harden into kidney stones. The size, exact location, and consistency of the stone all influence the management and treatment of kidney stones. Drug or medication therapy, dietary and lifestyle changes are initially advised based on the patient's conditions. If the stone has not yet dissolved, removal surgery is performed to keep the kidney function from deteriorating and avoid further complications.