PROCEDURE AND BENEFITS OF ESWL
ESWL – Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is a technology where shock waves are used to crash a kidney stone into small parts that can then pass through the urinary duct and get out of the body along with urine. As it is an outpatient procedure, it allows you to go home right after the treatment without needing to spend the night in the hospital. Moreover, it is a technology safe for children and people with only one functioning kidney.
WHY DO WE NEED ESWL:
The primary use of ESWL is to remove kidney stones that cause pain or blockage in the urine flow. ESWL can treat stones that are between 4mm (0.16 in.) and 2mm (0.8 in.) in diameter. As ESWL works best when the stone is in the kidney or in the part of the ureter which is close to the kidney, your surgeon may use ureteroscope, a small instrument, to push to stone back into the kidney before using ESWL. However, ESWL should not be recommended if you:
- Have a bleeding disorder.
- Are pregnant. The sound waves and X-rays will be harmful to the fetus.
- Have a urinary tract infection, kidney cancer or kidney infection.
- Have a kidney with an abnormal structure or function.
- Have a pacemaker unless a cardiologist has determined it is safe.
HOW IS THE PROCEDURE PERFORMED:
The whole process takes about an hour. First, to find the stone the doctor uses X-ray or ultrasound tests to accurately locate the stone while you lie on a water-filled cushion. Then, the doctor will use high energy sounds to break the stones into small pieces to make it easy for those to pass through your urine. Sedatives or local anesthesia may use for some patient. In the case of a large stone, the doctor will use a stent, a short tube of bendable plastic mesh, which will hold the ureter open.
There are some complications included in this process, like:
- As stone fragments pass the urinary duct, a mild pain will be felt for a few days.
- Large stones may create a blockage in the urine flow and stones becoming stuck in the urinary tract which can be removed with a ureteroscope.
- Urinary tract infection.
- Bleeding around the outside of the kidney.
ESWL however, doesn’t ensure the regrowth of kidney stones. For the preventive treatment of kidney stones, you have to drink a lot of fluids so you won’t get dehydrated and the tract will stay clean. ESWL doesn’t treat cystine kidney stones properly as they do not break up easily.