Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)

Kidney Stones


For Patients

If you suspect you have stones, visit your primary care provider or urologist.

If you've been diagnosed with stones and would like to be seen in the Metabolic Stone Clinic, please call (608) 263-4757.

LithotripsyThe Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) technique uses sound waves (also called shock waves) to break a kidney stone into very small pieces that can more easily travel through the urinary tract and out of the body.
This procedure is popular because it is minimally invasive, takes only about an hour, can be done on an outpatient basis and requires little recovery time. It may take a few weeks, however, for all the fragments to pass. And sometimes the fragments are not broken up into small enough pieces, requiring either a repeat procedure or some other procedure for complete removal.
ESWL is usually reserved for stones that are in the kidney and not in the ureter. ESWL is not appropriate for women who are pregnant, people with a kidney or urinary tract infection, those with certain anatomic abnormalities and anyone with a bleeding disorder.