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Shock Wave Lithotripsy (SWL)

This is one of the most frequently used procedures for eliminating kidney stones. A lithotripter delivers ultrasonic or shock waves outside your body through the skin and tissue, until they reach the kidney stones. This repeated impact stresses the stone until it crumbles into tiny, sand-like particles that are easily expelled through the urinary tract. SWL is only used in healthy kidneys and if there is no blockage to prevent the passage of stone fragments.

Patients are lightly sedated and relax on a soft cushion while the urologist uses ultrasound or fluoroscopy to locate the stone and direct the shock waves.

SWL is done as an outpatient procedure since recovery time is short. In some cases, a single session many not free the ureter of all stone material, so patients may require an additional session or another procedure. Not everyone can undergo SWL. Patients who are pregnant, obese, have obstruction beyond the stone, have an abdominal aortic aneurysm, urinary tract infections or a bleeding disorders are not candidates for SWL. Some stone location and composition may require another procedure other than SWL.

After treatment, most patients pass the stone particles during urination. In some instances, the urologist will place a stent in the ureter to assist in stone location or to help with stone fragment passage. Some types of stones based on composition and size cannot be treated using SWL and require another treatment.

<p">Most patients will fully recover quickly, but may have blood in their urine, bruising and minor discomfort for a few days after treatment. Patients will need to increase fluid intake to help the stone fragment to pass.

Learn What to Expect from Kidney Stone Treatment

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Call the Stone Phone

Kidney Stone Center
919-350-ROCK (7625)

*All calls that are determined to not be related to a kidney stone will be referred for further evaluation per the provider’s discretion.


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