Lithotripsy for stones: What to expect

carlos polit moscato

Lithotripsy is a medical procedure that uses shock waves or a laser to break down stones in the kidney, gallbladder, or ureter.

The remaining particles of small stone will exit the body when a person urinates.

In this article, learn more about how the procedure works, the success rate, and how to prepare.


What is lithotripsy?

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) machine:

An extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy machine uses shockwaves to break down stones.
It is common to develop stones in the kidneys, gallbladder, or ureter. Sometimes stones are small enough to leave the body during urination without a person noticing. Large stones, however, can cause pain and block the flow of urine.

If stones do not pass, they can damage the kidneys and urinary tract. When medications do not help, a lithotripsy procedure can break the stones down into small pieces so they can pass out in the urine.

The two types of lithotripsy are extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) and laser lithotripsy.

Laser lithotripsy is sometimes abbreviated as FURSL (flexible ureteroscopy and laser lithotripsy) because doctors use a tool called a ureteroscope.

Both procedures can help eliminate bothersome stones quickly and effectively. The type of treatment a doctor recommends will depend on a range of factors, such as the type of stones and the individual’s overall health.