What happens during shockwave lithotripsy?
- The patient is given intravenous sedation (to cause drowsiness) or general anesthetic before the procedure begins.
- A water-filled cushion or membrane is placed underneath the area to be treated.
- The doctor and technician locate the exact position of the kidney stone(s) using ultrasound waves or X-rays.
- A shockwave-generating machine emits high-energy waves that can crush the stones. Usually, about 2,000 to 3,000 waves are required to break the stones into fragments. It takes 1 hour to complete the procedure.
SWL generally is performed as an outpatient procedure. The patient usually spends a few hours in the recovery room before going home.