Lithotripsy, which is also called extracorporeal shock wave treatment, uses shock waves focused by ultrasound to break up gallstones. Lithotripsy may be used alone or along with bile acids to break up stones.
The procedure, which is now rarely performed, has been used for people who have long-term (chronic) inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) and who are not strong enough for surgery. But it is not appropriate in treating sudden (acute) cholecystitis.
Lithotripsy is most effective for people who have no complications from gallbladder disease and who have one stone that is 1 in. (20 mm) or smaller.