Urology Center of Englewood

Lithotripsy

Lithotripsy is a procedure used to break up stones in the kidneys, ureters, or bladder. Stones in the urinary tract are a common and painful problem. They develop when substances in the urine become concentrated and form a solid. Small stones may be able to pass through the urinary tract on their own, but when stones become large or cause symptoms, treatment may be necessary.

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (EWSL): During this procedure, shock waves from a machine outside of the body are transmitted through the skin until they reach the stone. The shock waves break the stone into pieces that are small enough to pass through the urinary system. If the initial treatment doesn’t break the stones into small enough pieces, additional treatment may be necessary. Some patients may also have a narrow tube called a stent placed in the urinary tract to help the pieces of stone pass.

Laser lithotripsy: Another approach to lithotripsy involves the use of a laser to break the stone into small pieces. For this procedure, an endoscope (a lighted viewing device) is inserted into the urinary tract through the urethra. Once the endoscope reaches the stone, a small fiber containing the laser is inserted through the endoscope and used to break up the stone. As with EWSL, a stent may be placed to help the small pieces of stone pass out of the body.

Lithotripsy often involves the use of general anesthesia, but patients can usually go home the same day. You may notice some discomfort or blood in your urine after the procedure.