Non-Invasive Lithotripsy Used to Break Up Kidney Stones

The Urology Center at Mercy - Baltimore, MD

The Urology Specialists of Maryland at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, work with patients to diagnose and treat urologic conditions. Our doctors utilize non-invasive lithotripsy as a treatment for kidney stones.

What is Non-Invasive Lithotripsy?

Non-invasive lithotripsy is a treatment procedure for kidney stones. Kidney stones are hard deposits that can form in your kidneys and can range in size from small pebbles to golf balls. They can stay in the kidneys or travel out of the body through the urinary tract. Kidney stones are one of the most painful urological disorders. There is no single cause of kidney stones. Adults over 40 and men are more likely to develop kidney stones. 

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How is a Non-Invasive Lithotripsy performed?

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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Who should receive a Non-Invasive Lithotripsy?

Most kidney stones leave the body without any medical intervention. Pain medication and lots of glasses of water can help pass the kidney stone or stones. If the stone is bigger than pebble size, non-invasive lithotripsy may be needed to remove the stone. In more severe cases, additional surgery may even be required.

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