Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL)

Stone Relief Center -  - Kidney Stone Specialist

Stone Relief Center

Kidney Stone Specialist located in The Woodlands, TX

Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL) is a nonsurgical treatment for eliminating painful kidney stones. The team at Stone Relief Center in The Woodlands, Texas, frequently perform ESWL to quickly provide pain relief to their patients with kidney stones. If you have kidney stones and you’d like to learn if you’re a good candidate for ESWL, call the office or book an appointment online.

Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL) Q & A

What is extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy?

ESWL uses sound waves to break apart kidney stones. Sound waves create vibrations that are strong enough to shatter the stones into tiny pieces that easily pass out of your body in your urine.


Who is a good candidate for ESWL?

Before performing ESWL, Stone Relief Center uses on-site diagnostic imaging to verify the size and location of your kidney stones. They also thoroughly evaluate your overall health to be sure you can tolerate ESWL.

To qualify for ESWL the stone must be smaller than 2cm, and you need to be in good overall health. You should not have an infection, a bleeding disorder, or problems with urination. Women who are pregnant are not good candidates for ESWL treatment.


What happens during ESWL?

Even though ESWL isn’t a surgical procedure, it’s painful, so you receive anesthesia or sedation to keep you comfortable. Your provider positions your body on a specialized operating table, then uses real-time X-ray imaging to focus the shock wave on the targeted stone.

After the device that produces the shock wave, the lithotripter, is focused, your Stone Relief Center provider turns on the machine, and shock waves pass through your body to the stone. 

As the sound energy reaches its target, it breaks apart the stone, but it takes 1,000-2,000 shock waves to completely crush the stone. As a result, your treatment takes 45-60 minutes.


Will I need a stent during ESWL?

In some cases, your doctor at Stone Relief Center inserts a stent before ESWL. One end of the stent goes inside the bladder, then it’s threaded through the ureter and into your kidney.

You may need a stent when:

  • You have severe pain
  • You have a urinary tract infection
  • The stones have blocked the ureter
  • Your stone is large
  • You only have one kidney

The purpose of the stent is to prevent broken stones from blocking the ureter.


What should I expect after an ESWL procedure?

Most patients stay in recovery for about an hour, and then they can go home. Afterward, you need to drink plenty of water and strain your urine to capture the stone pieces. Your Stone Relief Center provider may prescribe medication that helps you pass the stone pieces.

During your follow-up appointments, you learn about lifestyle changes you can make to prevent the same type of stone from recurring in the future.

To learn more about ESWL, call Stone Relief Center or schedule an appointment online.