Shockwave Lithotripsy for Treating Kidney Stones

Although most people have heard about kidney stones, many think of them as something uncommon. The truth is that more than 10% of men in the United States will develop a kidney stone at some point in their life and about six percent of women will also develop a kidney stone during their lifetime. When you are dealing with a kidney stone, it can be helpful to learn about shockwave lithotripsy and other potential treatments for them.

Since kidney stones are so common, it makes sense for everyone to prepare for the possibility that they will experience them at some point in their lives. 

Different treatments suit different people, so it’s crucial to understand the pros and cons of each. But what kind of treatment is best for kidney stones? And what is so great about shockwave lithotripsy? Read on to learn all about the most important things to understand about possible treatments for your kidney stones!

What Is Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy?

The full name of shockwave lithotripsy is extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy. Extracorporeal refers to a treatment that is applied outside the body without surgery or entry into the body. As a result, extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy allows you to treat kidney stones non-invasively by delivering shock waves from the outside.

During such a treatment, people will often receive anesthesia because providing shock waves from outside the body can be painful. Once the patient is ready for treatment, the urologist will place a lithotripter machine near the kidneys.

It will then deliver hundreds or even thousands of shock waves to break your kidney stones into bits. Of course, it is also important to keep in mind that for especially large kidney stones, doctors may use a urethral stent to help dilate the ureter and help kidney stone fragments to pass toward the bladder.

Advantages of Shockwave Lithotripsy for Kidney Stone Removal

Treatments for kidney stones are different for people with different health conditions, so there is no one treatment that is best for all. However, shockwave lithotripsy is certainly beneficial.

For some patients, the advantage of non-surgical treatment outweighs virtually everything else.

There are a ton of factors to be aware of when thinking about a major surgery of any sort. While surgeons are extremely skilled, opening up the body is always risky. Shockwave lithotripsy reduces these risks of infection and other post-op issues as compared to invasive surgery.

On top of that, people can receive shockwave lithotripsy without needing a recovery period afterward. Without any surgical incisions, there is no serious trauma for people to heal from after the procedure.

However, it is still important to appreciate that the shock waves this treatment delivers to the body can be intense. In some cases, people will develop small amounts of bleeding. On top of that, there may be some discomfort or pain for a day after treatment.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Shockwave Lithotripsy?

When it comes to shockwave lithotripsy, the smaller the kidney stone, the better. As we discussed before, larger kidney stones may require combining regular shockwave lithotripsy with a urethral stent.

Whenever possible, it is best to keep the procedure simple. For that reason, shockwave lithotripsy is an excellent option for people with smaller kidney stones.

Of course, all kidney stones start small before growing bigger. For that reason, shockwave lithotripsy can allow you to catch kidney stones before they grow larger. If you wait too long, shockwave lithotripsy may no longer be viable. On the other hand, even larger kidney stones may be manageable if they are located in the upper portion of the ureter.

Understanding the Causes of Kidney Stones

There are many potential causes of kidney stones, for example, people often develop kidney stones because they do not drink enough water. The less water in your system, the more concentrated the minerals in your kidneys will be. As concentrations of minerals get higher, the probability that they will coalesce into a stone increases.

It will also increase your chance of developing kidney stones if you eat food with too much sugar or salt. Some people also end up developing kidney stones because they drink water with too many minerals in it.

Additionally, both obesity and weight loss surgery can contribute to the formation of kidney stones.

Top Signs of a Kidney Stone

Many people find out they have kidney stones because they start experiencing pain. Kidney stone pain is felt in the back and flank, and will often radiate from there to the lower abdomen or groin.

Kidney stone pain tends to increase and decrease at somewhat random intervals. However, you can sometimes detect kidney stones because there will be a painful sensation while urinating.

You might also find your urine turns red, brown, or cloudy. To confirm the presence of kidney stones, a doctor will often order an x-ray.

Shockwave Lithotripsy at USOC

It can take some time and study to understand the finer points of shockwave lithotripsy. However, learning more about it is an investment that will pay off for your health in the long run. The better you understand shockwave lithotripsy, the better you will be able to assess if it is the right choice for your unique situation or not.

To learn more about how shockwave lithotripsy and other treatments can help you manage kidney stones, reach out and get in touch with us. We can’t wait to assist you on your journey!

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