Skip to main content

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy

ESWL for Kidney Stones

Shock wave lithotripsy is the most common treatment for kidney stones. There is no surgery. Using shock waves outside the body, your urologist can break up the kidney stones.

What is ESWL?

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is a completely non-invasive procedure to break up kidney stones. The procedure takes 45 to 60 minutes. Patients who do not need immediate attention for stones may find this procedure beneficial.

ESWL may be an option if your kidney stones cause:

  • Pain

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

  • Bleeding

  • Damage to kidneys

Is ESWL right for me?

The following people may not be qualified for shock wave lithotripsy:

  • Patients who need immediate treatment

  • Patients on blood thinners

  • Patients with certain types of kidney stones

  • Patients with chronic kidney infections

  • Patients with scar tissue of the ureter (the tube going from the kidney to the bladder)

  • Pregnant women

Speak with your provider to see if ESWL is an option to treat your kidney stones.

The day before ESWL

Patients will need to undergo a restricted diet the day before the procedure. Over-the-counter laxatives will need to be taken as well. Patients cannot drink or eat anything after midnight before ESWL. Speak with your primary care provider and specialty doctor about which medications you may need to stop taking before the surgery.

ESWL recovery

Patients will likely be in the recovery room for one to two hours after the procedure. Most will be released the same day.

Passing the kidney stone fragments may still be painful. Doctors will usually prescribe pain relievers to help.

Most patients have all stones removed with ESWL. Sometimes, more treatments are needed if some stones are left.

Primary care is your first stop for healthcare

The primary care providers at MaineHealth have the compassion and skill to care for you and the entire family. They make your health and your family’s health the first priority.