Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Kidney Stones Health Center

Font Size

Diabetes From Kidney Stone Blaster?

Nearly 4 Times Higher Diabetes Risk After Shock Wave Treatment for Kidney Stones
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 10, 2006 -- Pulverizing kidney stones with shock waves raises a person's risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, a new study shows.

In the early 1980s, getting a kidney stonekidney stone often meant painful open surgery. Then came shock wave lithotripsyshock wave lithotripsy. This revolutionary technology uses sonic waves to blast kidney stones into tiny grains of sand. No surgery is needed.

It's always seemed to be safe. But now there's disturbing new data from a Mayo Clinic study. The study appears in the May issue of the Journal of Urology.

Shock Wave Damage

The study compared kidney stone patients treated in 1985 with shock wave lithotripsy to patients given other nonsurgical kidney stone treatments that same year. Nineteen years later, the shock wave patients were nearly four times more likely to get diabetes. And, if both kidneys were treated, they were 47% more likely to have high blood pressure.

It's not yet clear how shock wave treatment might cause these problems, says researcher Amy E. Krambeck, MD. What seems to be happening is collateral damage from the shock waves.

"The theory is that the shear forces related to shock wave lithotripsy can cause tissue damage," Krambeck tells WebMD. "Damage to the pancreas could put patients at risk for diabetes."

Patients who got the most shock wave treatments -- at the highest intensity - had the highest risk of diabetes.

Don't Suspend Treatment

The shock wave machine used in 1985 is an older model. It's still in use at the Mayo Clinic, Krambeck says. Newer shock wave machines give a more focused shock -- but also provide stronger shock waves. Because the Mayo study is the first to link diabetes to shock wave treatment, it's not at all clear whether newer machines provide less risk, the same risk, or more risk.

Krambeck says much more study is needed. In the meantime, she says, there's no reason to stop using the machines for patients with large kidney stones.

There's no immediate danger for people who've had their kidney stones treated by shock wave, says Glenn Preminger, MD. Preminger chairs the American Urological Association's kidney stone treatment panel. He's professor of urologic surgery and director of the comprehensive kidney stone center at Duke University.

"Prudence -- and the need for surveillance -- is warranted," Preminger tells WebMD. "But we do not need to suspend shock wave lithotripsy or rush to the doctor at this point. Any stone-forming patients should have routine follow-up with their physicians. As part of that routine care, we would look for the possibility of high blood pressure and diabetes. So what I recommend is prudent follow-up care."

Today on WebMD

Kidney Stone
5 Signs You Might Have A Kidney Stone
Lots Of Water Part Of Kidney Stone Treatment
Research To Prevent Kidney Stones Under Way

Thumbnails Kids Get Kidney Stones Too
Food And Drink To Keep Away Kidney Stones
What Is A Kidney Stone Made Of
7 wonders of Water Slideshow