Extracorporeal shock wave treatment for kidney stones

A non-invasive treatment used to break up kidney stones

What is lithotripsy treatment?

Lithotripsy treatment uses a high-intensity sound wave to break kidney stones up into smaller pieces, so you can pass them naturally without pain or discomfort. This is done with you awake with just some simple pain-killers. Treatments typically take 20-30 minutes and you are able to go home shortly afterwards.

If you have kidney stones, this non-invasive treatment can help. If this treatment is not suitable for you then your kidney stone specialist may recommend ureteroscopy and laser or a percutaneous nephrolithotomy as alternative options. Your consultant will explain all the options available to you.

Need to know

  • What happens during the procedure? icon plus

    The technician will ask you to lie on your side, giving you a water-filled cushion for support. You may also be given simple analgesia (medication to help relieve pain).

    After using X-rays or ultrasound to locate the kidney stone(s), they will then use a machine called a lithotripter to target it with sound waves. These sound waves will break the stone into small pieces (less than 2mm in size), making them easier to pass.

    Lithotripsy is an effective treatment for up to 80% of kidney stones.

  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you may have. However, we do advise that you should bring pain killers with you on the day of your treatment.
  • After your procedure icon plus

    You will likely feel a bit bruised in the area the treatment took place, however you will be able to go home on the same day as your procedure.

    Your consultant will let you know when you can get back to your usual routine, including work or exercise, however it’s important to drink plenty of water after the procedure, as this should help you to pass the fragmented stone.

    You will be advised whether you will need a follow-up with your urologist at the end of your consult.

Mr Matthew Bultitude, Kidney Stone Service Mr Matthew Bultitude, Kidney Stone Service Mr Matthew Bultitude, Kidney Stone Service

Meet our lead consultant, Mr Matthew Bultitude

Mr Matthew Bultitude is the lead consultant for lithotripsy, which is a key part of the Kidney Stone Service at London Bridge Hospital. He is clinical director for transplant surgery, nephrology and urology at Guy's and St. Thomas'. He has been Secretary of the Urology Section of the Royal Society of Medicine, spent 9 years as Associate Editor for BJU International and is a member of the BAUS Endourology Executive.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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