Shock Wave Lithotripsy: Before Your Procedure

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Kidneys and lithotripsy

What is lithotripsy?

Shock wave lithotripsy is a way to treat kidney stones without surgery. It is also called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, or ESWL. This treatment uses sound waves to break kidney stones into tiny pieces. These pieces can then pass out of the body in the urine.

You may get medicine to make you relaxed and help with pain or discomfort.

You will lie on a table. The lithotripsy machine directs sound waves at your stone through a cushion.

The doctor may use a small, flexible tube called a stent. The stent will let the stone pass more easily.

Most people are at the doctor's office or clinic for about 2 hours. You can go back to your normal routine right away.

Most stones pass within 24 hours after the procedure. But it can take as long as several weeks. If you have a large stone, you may need to come back for several treatments. In some cases lithotripsy does not break up the stones. Surgery may be needed to remove them.

How do you prepare for the procedure?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

 
  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your procedure. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
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    Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  •  
    Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • Bring a picture ID.
  •  
    You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You may get medicine that relaxes you or puts you in a light sleep. The area being worked on will be numb.
  •  
    The procedure will take about 1 hour.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
  • You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.