Kidney Stones – Lithotripsy

Saint Peter’s University Hospital offers extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), a non-invasive procedure used to “fix” kidney stones. Lithotripsy is an outpatient procedure that is highly effective for most patients.

The kidney’s job is to filter waste products from the blood so they can be diluted in the urine and eliminated from the body. Kidney stones develop when waste products do not dissolve, forming crystals that can build up and develop into stones. The stones can become lodged in the kidney or urinary tract, blocking the flow of urine and causing considerable pain. Medication can dissolve certain types of stones, but in many cases more aggressive treatment is necessary.

Lithotripsy is very precise and uses shock waves to break up the stone non-invasively, using a fluoroscope to locate the stone, then pulverize it with focused shock waves. The tiny, sand-like particles that result can then be eliminated through the urinary tract. It is successful for about 85 percent of patients.

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