Lithotripsy is a technique for treating stones in the kidney and ureter that does not require surgery. Instead, high energy shock waves are passed through the body and used to break stones into pieces as small as grains of sand. Because of their small size, these pieces can pass from the body along with the urine.
The most common form of lithotripsy is extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). Extracorporeal means “outside the body.” In this case, it refers to the source of the shock waves. During ESWL, a special machine called a lithotripter generates the shock waves. The waves travel into your body and break apart the stones.
The main advantage of this treatment is that many patients may be treated for kidney stones without surgery. As a result, complications, hospital stays, costs and recovery time are reduced.