Shockwave Lithotripsy

Dr. Shaw is proud to offer the latest, most minimally invasive options for management of stones within the kidney and ureter (tube connecting the kidney and bladder).

We use the latest generation shockwave-lithotripsy equipment to remove kidney and ureteral stones.

Once upon a time, this required major surgery or incisions. The newest technology allows us to usually perform these cases in one hour or less, and on an outpatient basis.

Shockwave Lithotripsy Information

What is Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL)?

Basically, this is the principle of energy sent as waves to break up kidney stones. Think of the waves generated from tossing a stone into still water, and this is the basic idea behind ESWL.


Some of our patients come via the Emergency Room in severe pain. Usually these stones are lodged in the tube connecting the kidney and bladder. The resulting blockage causes dilation, or back-up of urine in the kidney, causing pain. The ureter, which is a muscular tube, has contractions, as it is trying to move the stone towards the bladder. This results in waves of pain followed by relatively pain-free episodes. For other patients, who are a bit more lucky, we are able to locate the stone before it begins it’s journey down the ureter. Although most patients can pass a stone less than 4mm on their own, the size of this line (—), any bigger than that, and the stone is likely to get lodged, causing trouble.

When appropriate, we will give pain medicine, including Toradol, which also relaxes the ureter, decreasing pain. We also use medications called alpha-blockers such as Uroxatral, Flomax, and Rapaflo, which can potentially dilate the ureter, allowing urine to be able to pass by the stone, reducing pain. In some lucky cases, the ureter dilates enough to pass the stone spontaneously. (No surgery!)

For others, with larger stone, complex anatomy, or other factors such as urinary infection, severe pain, shockwave lithotripsy will be necessary to remove the stone.

When at all possible, we ask that you remain on a clear liquid diet the day before the procedure (soups, broths etc). This clears the bowels, and makes it easier to detect the stone under X-Ray, when there is less gas and stool in the abdomen.

It is also critical that you stop any aspirin, coumadin, plavix, or other blood thinners one week before shockwave lithotripsy. Please call our office should you have any questions about this.

Post Procedure

After the procedure, patients may have a variety of minor issues. Although many patients may do fine with no issues, some patients may experience minor, temporary issues such as noticing burning with urination, frequent urination, small clots, or pink/red colored urine, or occasional discomfort that radiates from the kidney to the bladder. Again, these usually tend to be minor issues, and resolve within 1-2 days after the procedure. Occasionally, there may be minor bruising at the site of lithotripsy, this is a natural occurrence from the energy waves entering the body to break up the stone.

Advice after shockwave lithotripsy

Definitely rest up for a day or two after the procedure. Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water, preferably with lemon (helps to dissolve some small stones!) to wash out your system.For pain, Advil®, Motrin®, or prescription Toradol® work great – dependent upon your doctor’s advice. Never take a medication without clearing it with your doctor first. These are non-narcotic, so you don’t get sleepy, constipated or have other issues; however they are great anti-inflammatories. Take them on a regular basis the first 2-3 days after the procedure. For pain not relieved by these medications, use the prescription Tylenol with Codeine or Vicodin that was prescribed for you.


Usually, Dr. Shaw or his staff will communicate to you a desired follow-up time frame. Please call us the day after the procedure to verify a time to see us in the office. Usually if there are stone fragments, we will have a stone-analysis performed. We will also want to check an X-Ray of the abdomen, to make sure all stones were removed. Finally, Dr. Shaw prides himself on keeping his patients out of the OR, and reducing the chance of further kidney stones. This includes review of a diet to reduce kidney stones, 24-hour in-depth urine studies, and blood panels to find out the cause and source of stones. For most people dietary and lifestyle changes will drastically reduce the chance of stones, while others may need the addition of medicines to help reduce stone formation.

Virtual Visits Available

We offer both in-clinic and remote telemedicine consultations worldwide.

Book Now