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Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL)

Remove kidney stones with rays without surgery

What are Kidney stones?

Kidney stones are a common and painful medical problem. They are formed when salts in the urine precipitate and form solid material bound together by a protein matrix. Common components are Calcium Oxalate, Magnesium, Ammonium, Phosphate and Uric Acid. Kidney stones may be small or large and either smooth or jagged. They are usually yellow or brown. The stones may be present in the Kidney, Ureter or the Urinary Bladder. Kidney stones are a serious disease with many complications like pain, infection, kidney damage and kidney failure if timely treatment is not done. 

What are the symptoms of Kidney stones?

  • Pain

  • Blood in urine

  • Fever and chills

  • Vomiting

  • Urine smells bad or looks cloudy (pus in urine)

  • A burning feeling when urinating

What are the treatment options for kidney stones?

Kidney stone disease management involves treatment of the existing stone and preventive measures against recurrences. Many small stones pass out by themselves through the urinary tract with the urine, however, pain can be severe and require hospital admission and pain killer medicines. Many stones require open operation or endoscopic keyhole surgery. Now a invention, Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL) is available for effective treatment of kidney stones with little pain or discomfort using an intense beam of ultrasound to smash large kidney stones into small fragments and powder that can pass out in urine.

What is Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL)?

ESWL is an equipment to treat urinary stones with rays without surgery. During ESWL the stone is localised using an image intensifier and high frequency shock waves are focused onto the stone, which results in its mechanical disintegration into small particles. The breaking up of the stones can be seen on the imaging system. The fragmented stone passed out in urine. Number of treatment sessions depends upon the size and location of the stone. Patients with some large stones may temporarily require Double J Stent to be placed by a cystoscope that is latter removed.

Benefits of ESWL?

  • Non-invasive

  • Affordable

  • No cuts and scars

  • No anaesthesia required

  • No blood transfusion required

  • Short treatment time

  • No long term recovery period

  • Usually no hospital stay required

  • Reduction of medicines for pain

  • No acute or long-term side-effects

  • Minimum work loss

  • Safe for all age groups - children to elderly

  • Can be safely treated in recurrent stones

  • Comfortable

  • Life saving for patients unfit for surgery, single kidney patients etc.

  • Satisfactory - Patient can see stone passing out in urine and confirm its removal with check X-Ray

What test will be required before treatment?

Before treatment, blood and urine tests, X-Rays - Kidney, Ureter & Bladder (KUB) and Intravenous Pyelography (IVP), CT Scan and ECG are done to determine the type of stone, function of the kidney as well as to ensure safety of the patient. Some patients may need other tests like ultrasound, Renal DPT scan etc.

What preparations are required before treatment?

A high liquid intake the night before the treatment and a mild laxative on the eve of procedure is recommended. Patient should come to the hospital on the morning of lithotripsy treatment empty stomach after an overnight fasting.

What patients feel during the treatment?

During the treatment, which is usually least painful, the patient can relax comfortably on the treatment table and talk to doctors and nurses. Appropriate medication will be provided in case of any discomfort.

How long does the treatment take?

The average treatment time is 20 to 40 minutes. Single small stones may take less time to clear and large or multiple stones will take longer and multiple treatment sessions.

Safety of ESWL?

ESWL is non-invasive and can be performed without the risks associated with surgical procedures. Additionally, the rate of complications resulting from ESWL is considered negligible, with no reports of arrhythmias, heart failure, syncope, palpitations, breathing difficulty, bleeding, embolism, shock, or troponin.


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