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How is shock wave lithotripsy used to treat kidney stones?

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Shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) is the most common kidney stone treatment. It works best for small or medium stones. It's noninvasive, which means no cuts are made to your skin.

During this procedure, you lie on a table. You'll get medicine beforehand to limit any pain or discomfort.

The doctor uses an X-ray or ultrasound to find the stone (or stones) in your kidney. Then, she aims high-energy shock waves at your kidney from the outside. These waves go through your skin and break up the stone into small pieces.

The doctor might put a tube called a stent into your ureter (urine flows through this from your kidneys to your bladder). This stent helps the pieces of stone pass. SWL takes about an hour. You'll usually go home on the same day.

Afterward, you'll drink lots of water to flush the stone pieces out in your urine. You might have to pee through a strainer to catch pieces of the stone so she can test them.

SWL removes kidney stones in about half of people who have it. If it doesn't work, you might need to do the procedure again.

SOURCES:

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Lithotripsy."

Mayo Clinic: "Kidney stones treatments and drugs." "Percutaneous nephrolithotomy: What you can expect."

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Treatment for Kidney Stones in Adults."

National Kidney Foundation: "Kidney Stone Treatment: Shock Wave Lithotripsy." "Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy/Nephrolithotripsy."

NYU Langone Medical Center: "Surgery for Kidney Stones."

UC San Diego Health: "Ureteroscopy."

Urology Care Foundation: "How are kidney stones treated?" "What are Kidney Stones?"

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri on December 21, 2018

SOURCES:

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Lithotripsy."

Mayo Clinic: "Kidney stones treatments and drugs." "Percutaneous nephrolithotomy: What you can expect."

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Treatment for Kidney Stones in Adults."

National Kidney Foundation: "Kidney Stone Treatment: Shock Wave Lithotripsy." "Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy/Nephrolithotripsy."

NYU Langone Medical Center: "Surgery for Kidney Stones."

UC San Diego Health: "Ureteroscopy."

Urology Care Foundation: "How are kidney stones treated?" "What are Kidney Stones?"

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri on December 21, 2018

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What are side effects of shock wave lithotripsy for kidney stones?

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