Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)

Kidney stones are made when salts and minerals, which exist in urine, combine to form small ‘pebbles’ that remain in the kidney. The stones can cause severe pain as they travel to the ureters (narrow tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder), and leave the body during urination.

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) is a form of therapy that utilises shock waves to break down kidney stones into smaller pieces so that they can travel through the urinary tract more easily. ESWL may work best for kidney stones in the kidney or in a part of the ureter that is close to the kidney.

ESWL will usually not be used if the patient:

  • Is pregnant, as the sound waves and X-rays may harm the foetus
  • Has a bleeding disorder
  • Has a kidney infection, urinary tract infection, or cancer of the kidney
  • Has kidneys with abnormal structure or functions


Services & Procedures Offered

SunMed offers ESWL technology that uses ultrasound imaging to probe precisely the location of the kidney stone(s). The ESWL machine will then pass high-energy sound waves through the body, and, without injuring it, break the stone(s) into small pieces. The smaller pieces will then pass through the body in the urine over the next few days. The procedure usually takes up to 60 minutes.

Please be informed that patient may receive sedatives, or local anesthesia, so patient should consult the doctor if one’s has any concerns or questions. ESWL is usually an outpatient procedure, meaning patient will not need to spend the night in the hospital.

ESWL is a safe procedure and can be used on children, as well as individuals that have only a single working kidney. Unless the doctor has determined it is safe, patients who use pacemakers are not advised to undergo ESWL.