Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy procedure (ESWL) or “kidney shock wave” procedure is one of the procedures used to treat kidney stones. It is the most non-invasive way of treating kidney and some ureteric stones.
What Is ESWL?
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy procedure (ESWL) uses ultrasound waves externally to target kidney stones and some stones in the ureter. It may involve multiple sessions of about 45 minutes each to fragment the stones. Once the stones have been fragmented, the patient then passes the stones spontaneously.
ESWL is performed by a trained radiology technician under the supervision of a consultant urologist. It is performed as day-case procedure in an ESWL suite.
Who Is ESWL Suitable For?
ESWL is suitable for patients with small to mid-sized kidney stones and some ureteric stones.
How To Prepare For ESWL
There is no specific preparation required for ESWL. When used for fragmentation of larger stones, a JJ stent may need to be inserted under anesthetic prior to the procedure.
What Happens During The Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy Procedure?
The ESWL procedure is as follows:
ESWL performed on an outpatient basis in an ESWL suite
A pain killing injection or tablets are often given prior to the treatment starting.
The patient is awake, usually lying on their back.
Usually performed by a trained radiology technician and under the supervision of a consultant urologist, high energy shock waves are focussed at the stone using either x-ray or ultrasound to try and break the stone up into smaller pieces.
The procedure itself can be uncomfortable and 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 spontaneously in the urine.
What To Expect After Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy
It is common to experience the following after ESWL
- Blood in urine
- Discomfort passing urine
- Discomfort passing stone fragments
- Discomfort on the side of the abdomen where the kidney is.
Potential Side Effects Of ESWL
The risks of EWSL are as follows:
- Blood in the urine
- Bruising around the kidney
- Pain as the fragments pass or become stuck in the ureter.
Alternatives To Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy
The alternatives to ESWL are ureteroscopy and lasertripsy