Lithotripsy is a procedure that uses shock waves to break stones in the kidney, bladder, or ureter (tube that carries urine from your kidneys to your bladder). After the procedure, the tiny stone fragments pass from your body in your urine.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is the most common type of lithotripsy. “Extracorporeal” means outside the body. The lithotripsy procedure generally takes 45 minutes to 1 hour.
High-energy shock waves (sound waves) pass through your body until they hit the stones. You may feel a tapping sensation when this starts. The waves break the stones into tiny pieces.
A tube may be placed through your back and into your kidney to drain urine from your kidney until all the small stone pieces pass. The tube may be put in place before or after your lithotripsy treatment.
How well you do depends on the number of stones, their size, and where in your urinary system they are. Usually, lithotripsy completely removes the stones.