Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is one of the procedures used to treat kidney stones.
This is performed on an outpatient basis with the patient awake usually lying on their back. A pain killing injection or tablets are often given prior to the treatment starting. High energy shock waves are focussed at the stone using either x-ray or ultrasound to try and break it up into smaller pieces. It may take multiple treatments before it is clear if ESWL will break the stone or not. Once fragmented the pieces will be passed by the patient.
Complications are uncommon but include blood in the urine, bruising around the kidney and pain as the fragments pass or become stuck in the ureter.