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What is Extracorpeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL)?

By Dr. Anil Kumar Varshney in Urology

Jun 06 , 2017 | 2 min read

Extracorpeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL) is a procedure that uses high-energy shock waves to break the stones present in the bladder, ureter, and kidney into smaller pieces so that they can be easily passed out in the urine. In case there are any large pieces then another treatment needs to be performed. Your doctor will give you anaesthesia so that you do not experience any pain.

Who Are The Right Candidates For This Procedure?

Dr. Anil  Kumar Varshney, Director & Senior Consultant of Institute Of Minimally Invasive Urology And Lasers of Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh says, ESWL is commonly performed in both male and female candidates between 20-40 years of age. The percentage is 3-4 times higher in males than females. Additionally, this procedure is meant for those candidates who have stone sizes between 4mm and 2cmthat are blocking the urine or causing severe pain. It is possible that your surgeon can try to push back the stone in the kidney using aureteroscope and then perform EWSL. However, if there are still some stone fragments left then they need to be treated by using shock waves or another treatment.

EWSL is not meant for:

  • People who are suffering from UTIs (Urinary Tract Infection), Kidney infections or kidney cancer
  • Pregnant women
  • Candidates whose kidneys are abnormally structured
  • People with bleeding disorders
  • Morbidly obese people
  • People with a Cardiac pacemaker as your cardiologist will need to check whether you need EWSL or not.

What Are The Benefits Of This Treatment?

  • Minimally Invasive Treatment
  • Less hospital stay
  • Reduced recovery time

Are There Any Risks Associated With The Procedure?

It is true that ESWL can reduce the risk of stone formation in more than 50% of patients despite that stones of different sizes can remain. Therefore, there can be a possibility of repeating the procedure or performing a different procedure if required. EWSL can cause an injury to the kidney so it is essential to know about its risks from your surgeon. You can expect:

  • Internal Bleeding
  • A blood transfusion
  • Kidney damage
  • Infections
  • Complications like kidney failure or high blood pressure

When Is It necessary To Treat The Patient With ESWL?

If you have large stones in one kidney or both kidneys, you may require immediate attention. If you are a candidate for a kidney transplant, your doctor will give you medical intervention. Moreover, if the stone does not pass on its own, it needs to be treated quickly.

What To Expect Post ESWL?

Since it is a non-invasive surgery, you can expect a quick recovery. The patient can start walking immediately after the procedure and resume their activities early. There is no diet that you need to follow rather your doctor will advise you to consume enough water to help the stone fragments pass out.

What Precautions Do I Need To Take Once Am Discharged?         

Post-surgery, you can experience severe cramping, blood in the urine, and a mild abdominal pain because the stone fragments may make their way out from the body. Though there is nothing to worry but you can consult your doctor about the medicines.