Non-Invasive lithotripsy is a shock wave treatment that breaks up stones into smaller pieces that can pass out of the body in the urine. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is the most common type of lithotripsy. "Extracorporeal" means outside the body.
With the use of an imaging X-ray or ultrasound, the kidney stones are located and a pulse is released. The frequency of the pulse is slow to more effectively dissolve the stone. There are long gaps between the pulses and power levels are gradually increased to break up the stones which then can pass through the body. Doctors will insert a stent (a small flexible plastic tube) in the ureter to keep it open while stones leave the body.
The kidney stone pieces can take days to pass through the urinary tract and can result in mild pain during their flow. Patients are advised to try and capture any fragments for later analysis to help with future diagnosis.
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