Shockwave Lithotripsy (SWL)

Shockwave Lithotripsy (SWL) is the most common treatment for kidney stones. Pressure waves are sent from outside the body to break apart the kidney stone or stones into tiny fragments, allowing an easier passage for the patient.

Condition it treats:

Kidney stones

What happens during the procedure:

This procedure involves shockwaves directed at your kidney stone or stones to break them apart into small pieces. Usually patients are allowed to return home the same day of the procedure. This minimally invasive operation is performed when the patient is under general anesthesia.

  • Surgical time is approximately one hour
  • No incisions are made

What to expect post-procedure:

  • Outpatient surgery
  • Patients can return to work in two days
  • Medications include: narcotic pain medication as needed, medication to help pass stone fragments
  • Need to collect stone fragments by straining urine
  • No need for clinic procedure to remove stent

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Benefits

  • No incisions (non-invasive)
  • No hospitalization
  • Typically no need for ureteral stent placement at time of surgery
  • Minimal pain post-operatively


Possible Disadvantages

  • May need second procedure including stent placement if fragments do not pass
  • Small risk of bleeding requiring blood transfusion
  • Some stones are resistant to treatment

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Learn More about Kidney Stones

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