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Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) is the use of low-frequency, high-energy shock waves, externally sent through the skin to target kidney stones – causing the stones to break down into fragments until they become "stone dust", small enough to pass through urination.
ESWL is a non-invasive procedure that allows patients a very short stay at the hospital and a quick recovery.
ESWL is used for the treatment of urinary tract stones – especially stones in the kidney and the ureter, however, is generally not used to treat bladder stones. Patients often see the doctor when experiencing the following symptoms:
Once urinary tract stones have been diagnosed, the doctor will consider whether or not the patient should undergo ESWL. The decision will be based on a variety of factors such as the location and size of the stones, density of the stones, any inflammation or swelling of the kidneys, the patient’s overall health, and whether or not the patient will be able to handle the intensity of the shock waves.
The patient will receive a physical examination and undergo the standard preparations for surgery. The patient will be then be anesthetized.
Equipment involved in the procedure:
The lithotripter will administer approximately 8,000-10,000 shockwaves before stones are broken down into "stone dust". The process takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete.
Although ESWL is a widely popular and effective treatment method, not all types of urinary tract stones can be treated using this method.
Limitations are as follows:
Complications of ESWL are usually relatively mild; patients may experience the following symptoms:
If the doctor decides that ESWL is not suitable for the patient, other treatment options may be suggested, including:
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