SWL, or “shockwave treatment” uses powerful sound waves to break up stones in the kidney or upper ureter. It has been used for many years, and has been proven to be effective, safe and well-tolerated. The great benefit of shockwave treatment is that it’s non-invasive and therefore much less painful than other stone treatments.

It is NOT a form of “laser treatment”

The sound waves are generated by a machine called a Lithoripter which is placed against your back, over the kidney region. These sound waves are transmitted through your skin and focused on the kidney stone(s) using Xray guidance. Thousands of shockwaves are delivered over a 40-60 minute period with the aim of breaking up your stone(s) into very small pieces that will pass down the ureter.

Treatment is performed as day surgery under a full general anaesthetic.

Afterwards, there is usually some bruising on the skin of your back where the shockwaves passed through, and sometimes you may see blood in the urine for 24-48hours. Significant bleeding or bruising in the kidney (haematoma) is very uncommon, occurring in less than 1 in 3000 people.

If you are on any medication that causes blood thinning (eg Plavix, Iscover, warfarin, aspirin, Indocid, anti-inflammatory preparations) it will need to be ceased at least one week prior to treatment. You should discuss this with Dr Patel.

There is usually only mild pain or discomfort after treatment, requiring simple pain relief such as Panadol or Panadeine.

Occasionally some patients may develop severe pain after leaving hospital, due to larger stone fragments passing down the ureter and causing some blockage. If you experience any severe pain
after treatment, which is not controlled by the pain medication you have at home, you should go to your nearest hospital Emergency department or contact Dr Patel’s office.

You should drink plenty of fluids after treatment to try and flush out the small stone fragments.

Please make a follow-up appointment to see Dr Patel about 4-6 weeks after your treatment. You will need to have a new Xray or CT scan performed a day or two before your appointment. Dr Patel will provide you with a request form for these Xrays on the day of your treatment.

The success rate per procedure is about 80-90% for kidney stones less than 1cm in size. Sometimes repeat treatment or other surgery may be required if the initial treatment is not successful.

Shockwave Treatment Kidney Stones

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