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Lithotripsy, also known as Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL), is a non-surgical treatment for kidney or ureteral stones that uses low energy shock-waves focused on the stone to break it into tiny pieces.


  • Kidney stones
  • Ureteral stones


The patient lies on a specialized table and given IV medication for conscious sedation. Several x-rays are then taken in order to target the stone and aim the shock waves.  Focused sound waves are then generated by the lithotriptor.  These sound waves are felt as a tapping sensation by the patient.  Numerous sound waves break the stone into tiny pieces that are able to pass through the urinary system.


  • Minimally invasive therapy for kidney or ureteral stones
  • Shortened recovery
  • Surgery still an option if procedure fails
  • Excellent success rates and low complications
  • Less expensive than surgical therapies

Side Effects

Most patients will experience some discomfort when passing the small stone fragments and are given appropriate medications for this after the procedure.  The sound waves can cause some patient’s heart to skip a beat, and if this occurs frequently, then the sound waves are timed with the heart rate.  On rare occasion, a hematoma may form on the kidney from the shock waves.  These hematomas often cause no symptoms and resolve with time.  Some patients experience blood in the urine, which usually resolves quickly.

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This web site is intended as an educational resource for physicians, patients, and the community and provides only an overview of The Urology Clinic and Georgia Lithotripsy & Laser Center, select urologic conditions and procedures.  It is not intended to serve as or replace an evaluation by a health care provider.  Patients with urologic complaints should be seen and evaluated individually so that their unique situation can be addressed appropriately.
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Athens, GA 30607
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