ESWL is extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy. This techniques avoids any instrument or incisions, by using focussed sound waves (acoustic energy) to break your kidney stone into fine particles which can then pass through naturally in the flow of urine.
This approach has many favourable advantages. Almost all treatments are done as day cases, return to normal activities is swift, and the risk of needing a ureteric stent insertion is far lower than other techniques.
How effective is ESWL?
Excellent outcomes in stone clearance can be achieved by using the technology in the right situation, and optimising the treatment conditions. Many factors need to be considered, and not all stones are ideal for ESWL.
Best treatment conditions are achieved by using the best lithotripter equipment, and working with an experienced theatre lithotripsy team. At St Vincent’s, the team have performed well in excess of 10,000 stone treatments, achieving world class stone clearance rates.
What are the alternatives?
Usually stones that can be treated by ESWL can also be removed by instrumentation of the urinary tract in order to bring a holmium laser to bear on the stone. This is a slightly more invasive approach, but for some stone sufferers, endoscopy and laser will provide the best chance of stone clearance.