What is Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)
‘Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy’ is a noninvasive procedure used for the treatment of kidney stones. Usually, this procedure is used for those stones that are too large to pass through the urinary tract. ESWL uses focused sound waves or ultrasonic energy, which are generated by a machine called a lithotripter, directly on the stones to break them into smaller pieces that can pass the urinary system normally.
Why Will You Need ESWL?
Lithotripsy is used to treat kidney stones that have become too large to pass through the urinary tract as normal. One of the principal advantages of this technique is that it’s completely non-invasive and, depending on the type and location of the stones, it can be performed on most patients.
What Does Lithotripsy Involve?
Before the Procedure
Before the procedure you will be given instructions regarding a fasting period. Like standard procedures requiring general anesthesia, you’ll need to fast from 6 hours before the procedure, and only sip clear fluid (water) from 2 hours prior
During the Procedure
The ESWL Lithotripsy procedure involves the following steps:
- You will receive a sedative or mild anesthetic to ensure you remain comfortable and pain-free during the procedure.
- The stones are located by using a computerized x-ray machine, through fluoroscopy or ultrasound, and determine the best access to the stones.
- By using a device called a lithotripter, a series of shock waves are administered directly on the stones in order to make them small enough to pass the urinary tract. During the procedure, the stones will be monitored by fluoroscopy or ultrasound.
- Finally, a stent may be placed in the ureter to help to eliminate the stone fragments through urination.
After the Procedure
Since lithotripsy is a non-invasive procedure, most cases are performed on an outpatient basis. You might be discharged to home after fully recovering from anesthetics. At home, you will be encouraged to drink extra fluids to dilute the urine and reduce the discomfort of passing stone fragments. Also, you might notice some blood in your urine for a few days, which is normal.
ESWL Possible Risks and Complications
Usually, lithotripsy is a safe procedure that has minimal risk
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