Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL)

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What is extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL)?

ESWL is a noninvasive method to remove urolithiasis in the renal pelvis or in the ureter.

Shock waves are conducted through water to the patient’s flank. The shock waves are focused on the stone, pulverizing it into multiple small pieces. ESWL is an outpatient procedure that requires only mild anesthesia.

Disadvantages include the requirement for the patient to pass the fragments, which may cause renal colic, and the potential for some stone fragments to remain in the kidney, particularly stones in the lower pole of the kidney.

Some stones, such as cystine and brushite, are difficult to fragment by ESWL.

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