Munson Health
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy for Kidney Stones

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by McCoy K

(Lithotripsy for Kidney Stones)



Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is a nonsurgical treatment for kidney stones . It uses high-energy shock waves to break the stones into tiny pieces. The pieces can then be passed with urine.
Kidney Stones
Kidney Stones
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What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor may do the following:
  • Physical exam
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Imaging studies to help locate the stones
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, like:
  • Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen
  • Blood thinners
  • Anti-platelet medications


Heavy sedation or general anesthesia is usually used. Heavy sedation will keep you calm. With general anesthesia, you will be asleep. It will help you remain still and avoid discomfort.

Description of the Procedure

You will be placed on a soft cushion on top of a table. Shock waves can be passed to the stones through this cushion.
X-rays or ultrasound will be used to locate the stone. Your body will be positioned to target the stone. Shock waves will be passed through the stones until they are crushed. They will be crushed into pieces as small as grains of sand.

How Long Will It Take?

45-60 minutes

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. There may be some pain and discomfort afterward from the passage of broken stones. There may also be some bruising on the area treated. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medication.

Postoperative Care

You will be able to move almost immediately after the procedure. Drink plenty of water in the weeks after the procedure to help the stone pieces pass.


National Kidney Foundation

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse



Canadian Urological Association

The Kidney Foundation of Canada



Kidney and ureteral stones: Surgical management . American Urological Association website. Available at: Updated January 2011. Accessed March 3, 2014.

Kidney stones in adults. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: Updated January 28, 2013. Accessed March 3, 2014.

Lithotripsy. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: Accessed March 3, 2014.

Nephrolithiasis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated January 17, 2014. Accessed March 3, 2014.


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