Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)
Kidney Stone Treatment in Alexandria & Woodbridge, VA
Many individuals will encounter painful kidney stones at some point in their lifetime, and extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is an excellent way to break up these stones without requiring any type of surgery to be performed. Although its title may sound rather intimidating, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is really a very simple procedure that is frequently performed by urologists like those at Potomac Urology.
How the Procedure Works
Patients will begin by lying on their back with a water-filled cushion placed underneath of them for the shock waves to travel through safely. Your specialist will give a sedative or local anesthetic to help keep the individual comfortable during their ESWL.
Using X-ray or ultrasound imaging, your specialist will identify the precise location of the kidney stone(s) and begin to target this area over the course of the next 30-45 minutes. During this time, the kidney stone is slowly broken down into tiny fragments as 1-2 shock waves are administered from outside the patient’s body. The procedure is not overly painful, but there will be some discomfort, and patients will be asked to lie still throughout the treatment process. If this becomes difficult, it is important for patients to communicate with their specialist about any issues that you experience during the procedure. Additional anesthetics can often be given to improve the patient’s comfort level.
No Hospital Stay Needed
Unlike with surgery, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is performed on an outpatient basis, meaning that patients are able to return home shortly after their procedure is complete. Before heading home, patients will be instructed to:
- Drink plenty of fluids to help their stone fragments pass
- Strain their urine for stone fragments that can be analyzed at Potomac Urology
- Take pain medication or antibiotics as prescribed by our office
- Attend follow up appointments to review symptoms and determine if the stone has passed
Normal Side Effects
Many patients become alarmed when they notice a red tinge to their urine in the days following extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. It is perfectly normal for a small amount of blood to appear, and the patient is also likely to notice bruising at the treatment site as well as mild back pain. All of these effects should dissipate over the course of a few days, but should be addressed by our office if they begin to worsen.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy has proven effective in 70-90% of all cases after a period of three months. However, it is not a guarantee for every individual with kidney stones, and some large fragments from ESWL may require further treatment in order to have them broken down further or removed from the body.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy in Alexandria & Woodbridge, VA
To learn more about extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy and if you may qualify for this procedure, please contact Potomac Urology today by calling (703) 680-2111 to make an appointment with one of our specialists. During this consultation, your specialist will be able to give more insight into ESWL and any other treatment options they believe will bring you the most effective relief from your kidney stones.