Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy


What is Lithotripsy?

Lithotripsy service provides an alternative to the conventional surgical treatment of kidney stones. Derived from the Greek word meaning ‘stone crusher’, the lithotripsy process uses shockwaves to effectively fragment kidney stones without intrusive surgery. The virtually pain-free, same-day procedure means you are home sooner and recover much faster.

How does lithotripsy treatment work?

During Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL), shockwaves are generated by an instrument known as a lithotripter which fragments the kidney stone. The stone is broken into sand-like particles which are easily passed in the urine.

What tests will I need before i have my lithotripsy?

Before having lithotripsy treatment you will need to have blood and urine tests, an electrocardiograph (ECG) and x-rays. These will be organized before you come into hospital.


What do I need to do to prepare for treatment?

For lithotripsy booked in the morning, you must not eat or drink after midnight on the day before treatment. For lithotripsy booked in the afternoon you must not eat or drink after 7am on the day of treatment.

Blood thinning medications: if you are taking Aspirin, Clopidogrel, Warfarin or any other blood thinning or anti-inflammatory tablets such as Nurofen or Voltaren, please consult your doctor as it will be necessary to stop these tablets 10-14 days before your procedure. If this does not happen your lithotripsy appointment may be cancelled.

What if I am diabetic?

If you are diabetic you will have been given additional instructions by your Urologist. Please check the details with your referring doctor.

What happens if I pass my stone?

Sometimes patients pass their kidney stone before having lithotripsy. If this happens to you please call Associate Professor Webb’s rooms on tel: 03 8415 1500.

What happens when I arrive on the day of treatment?

On arrival you will be assessed by both nursing and medical staff and transferred into the Lithotripsy operating suite for treatment.

What should I wear?

Please wear comfortable shoes and clothing. You don’t need to bring pajamas or a gown. Please don’t wear make-up, nail polish or jewelry. For security reasons, please leave money and valuables including jewelry at home.

What do I need to bring with me?

Please bring with you:

  • x-rays
  • current medications
  • referral letter
  • health fund membership book (if applicable)
  • pharmaceutical entitlement (if applicable)
  • Medicare card
  • Veterans’ Affairs card (if applicable)
  • pension number (if applicable)
  • two (2) telephone numbers of family and/or friends

What should I expect during treatment?

Lithotripsy shockwave treatment can cause some discomfort when passing through the body. Therefore, some form of anaesthesia will be required. An Anaesthetist will consult with you about the most appropriate type of anaesthetic (general or spinal). You will be transferred to the lithotripsy table and x-ray monitoring or ultrasound will be used to precisely locate the kidney stone. A loud ‘bang’ is emitted as the shockwaves are applied to the stone. You will therefore be offered ear muffs or disposable ear plugs to protect your ears. Some patients may require a small catheter or narrow tube called a stent to be inserted temporarily to aid the passing of stone fragments from the kidney to the bladder. We will monitor the fragmentation of the stone throughout the procedure. The whole procedure usually takes around 30 minutes but could take longer if a stent is required.

What happens after treatment?

You will be transferred to the recovery room where you will be monitored for around two hours until the anaesthetic wears off.

You will be ready to go home approximately three hours after your treatment. You must be accompanied home by an adult relative or friend. For your safety, we cannot proceed with the lithotripsy treatment unless we have confirmed arrangements for you to be accompanied home. We recommend you go home and rest once discharged from hospital. You should not drive a car, operate machinery, drink alcohol, exercise or work until the following day. Most patients are able to resume normal daily activities the day after treatment.

What do I need to do after treatment?

After treatment we advise that you drink 2-3 litres of water per day to flush the urinary system and assist the stone fragments to pass in your urine. You may notice your urine is darker or blood-stained for the first few days following treatment. Some patients experience muscle soreness or bruising where the shockwaves entered. This soreness should resolve within 1-2 days. Simple analgesia can be taken to treat symptoms. The stone fragments will pass over the following days, weeks or months. Occasionally the broken stones may cause pain as they pass down the urinary system. The pain can usually be treated with pain relief tablets. It is possible that urinary infection may occur. The signs of this are high fever, shivers and pain. If you experience severe pain or fever you should return to an Emergency Department. These complications require prompt attention.

Do I need a follow up appointment?

Before leaving the hospital on the day of your treatment, a follow-up appointment will be made for you. You will be asked to have a plain x-ray so that the doctor can review your urinary system. If a stent was inserted, it will be removed by Prof Webb.




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Ph. 03 8415 1500