Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)

How lithotripsy for kidney stones works

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) uses shock waves to break a kidney stone into small pieces. These pieces can more easily move through the urinary tract and pass from the body.

For this procedure you lie on a water-filled cushion. X-rays or ultrasound tests are used to locate the stone. High-energy sound waves pass through your body without injuring it and break the stone into small pieces.

Current as of: September 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Tushar J. Vachharajani MD, FASN, FACP - Nephrology