Lithotripsy: How It Works, How It Is Done, Risks and Preparation


Lithotripsy is a procedure different from the others, which breaks stones in the kidneys, ureter and bladder through shock waves that pulverize the stones, which will later be expelled through the urine.

How does it work?

Also called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, it is the most common of these procedures. As a preparation before the procedure, antibiotics and analgesics are given for pain and relaxation. General anesthesia is administered and the patient will be completely asleep.

Through a device, shock waves are emitted that pass through the body and reach the kidney stones, breaking them into tiny pieces. In case the patient is awake, he feels light blows.

This procedure takes approximately between 45 minutes and 1 hour.

In turn, some doctors place a tube that comes out from the kidney, and drains the urine so that the pieces of stones leave the body.

Why is this procedure done?

Lithotripsy is commonly used for the elimination of kidney stones that cause: bleeding when urinating, pain, infections in the urinary tract and damage to the kidneys.

It is worth noting that this procedure is not performed in all cases of kidney stones. Likewise, these can be withdrawn by:

  • Surgery.
  • A tube inserted through a small incision in the kidney.

Are there any risks?

Generally this procedure is very safe, and is almost 100% free of complications, however it is necessary to consult the doctor again in case of:

  • Kidney infections
  • Loss of urine flow due to obstruction.
  • Remains of stones that remain in the body.
  • Bleeding in the kidney.

How to prepare before the procedure?

It is necessary to notify the doctor if you are taking medicines without a prescription, such as herbs, tea or supplements.

Before the surgery:

The doctor may prescribe that the patient stop taking ibuprofen or aspirin, or any other medication that prevents the rapid coagulation of the blood.

The day of the procedure:

It is forbidden to eat solid foods or drink several hours before starting the procedure, and if the doctor prescribes any medication prior to surgery, only take it with a sip of water.

What happens after the procedure?

It is necessary to stay in recovery room approximately two to three hours. After that, the patient can return home and rest. The doctor provides the patient with a container to collect the urine and the pieces of stone that will be expelled.

Depending on the amount and size of the stones that the patient has expelled, a diagnosis of the health of the kidneys can be given, since it is necessary that the patient follow a strict diet to reduce the chances of producing new kidney stones.