Some people may not be familiar with the procedure called lithotripsy, but for those who suffer from kidney stones or gallstones, it is likely a term that they have heard mentioned at some juncture. Lithotripsy is a procedure where painful gallstones or kidney stones are physically destroyed. It has been proven effective for many people, though it is not entirely without side effects. If you are considering lithotripsy, you can find out more about it at or a similar site, but for now, here are some facts about it that are useful to know.

There Can Be Pain Afterward

Lithotripsy breaks up the gallstones or kidney stones in your body, but then you have to pass them through your urine. It can be painful sometimes. Pain during urination afterward is one of the most commonly reported side effects.

Blocked Urine Flow Is Possible

It sometimes happens that after lithotripsy, fragments of the broken stones can get lodged in the urinary tract. When that happens, they might need to be removed through a ureteroscope if you cannot move them along naturally.

Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections are also not outside the realm of possibility following lithotripsy. These can also be painful, though they will heal up over time and the pain will subside. There are also prescription medications that can speed up the process.

Sound Waves Are Used

As far as the procedure itself, it is sound waves that are used to break up the stones into smaller pieces. They’re called high-energy shock waves, and the most common way they’re used is in an extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, also called an ESWL.

Outside the Body

The term “extracorporeal” as in ESWL, means outside the body. This refers to the machine that is the source of the shock waves being outside of your body while the waves target the affected areas. As the waves travel into your body, the stones break apart.  

ESWL Has Been Around For Over Thirty Years

ESWL has been used since the 1980s. When it was discovered, it replaced surgery as the best way to break up kidney and gallstones, since it is much less invasive. Any chance that a doctor has to treat a condition without surgery, they are going to take it.

45 Minutes to An Hour

The procedure will likely take about 45 minutes or an hour to complete. You might be conscious, but if so, you will be given a form of local anesthesia so that you don’t feel any pain. As far as medical procedures go, an ESWL is thought of as having minimal risk of serious complications.

You Might Get General Anesthesia

You might also be put under for the procedure, meaning that you’ll get a general anesthetic and you’ll be asleep while it’s going on. You may feel a tad disoriented when you wake up, but this will soon dissipate.

Although some potentially painful complications can result from lithotripsy, they are minor when compared to the pain that gallstones or kidney stones can cause. If you can’t pass yours naturally, then it is often in your best interest to go ahead and get the procedure. Find a doctor that has plenty of experience in this area, and figure out the best time to get it done.

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