Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) uses highly focused impulses projected and focused from outside the body to pulverize kidney stones anywhere in the urinary system. The stone usually is reduced to sand-like granules that can be passed in the patient’s urine. Large stones may require several ESWL treatments. The procedure should not generally be used for struvite stones, stones over 1 inch in diameter, or in pregnant women.
Patients undergoing lithotripsy are given a sedative and general or regional anesthesia, and the procedure takes over an hour. More than one treatment may be required.
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