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Lithotripsy for Kidney Stones

Without intervention from a physician, kidney stones will pass through the body naturally – but this is incredibly painful and can lead to a range of complications and issues. Thus lithotripsy is the destruction of gallstones or kidney stones which can be achieved in a number of ways. Here the stones are broken or pulverized using a variety of methods and this then allows them to be removed as non-invasively as possible.

How Lithotripsy Works

Lithotripsy of course means the destruction of kidney stones from outside the body. This is utilized often to avoid the use of surgery and the need for incision. One way this is achieved is through ‘extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy’. Here, shock waves are created outside the body in order that they might travel through the body and break the stones down into small particles more easily passed through the urinary tract. This will use either X-rays or ultrasound to first pinpoint the stones and will usually require some anaesthetic as the shock waves can also cause bruising and discomfort.

Side Effects, Recovery and Complications

Side effects may include blood in the urine, but the process is normally used on an out-patient basis and patients can normally return to their usual activities within a few days. To encourage recovery, patients are advised not to take aspirins or other blood-thinning products after lithotripsy. In some rare cases the smaller stone particles may still cause blockages and discomfort when passing through the urinary tract. In these situations the doctor may use something known as a ‘stent’ through the uterus and into the bladder which can help the stones to pass without causing discomfort. Alternatively there may be need for multiple treatments.

It is important to consult with a doctor and to consider all options before making a decision regarding your treatment.





Theodoros Manfredi

Article reviewed by Theodoros Manfredi, PhD. A licensed physician who has worked with children and families for over seven years.


Copyrighted material; do not reprint without permission.

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