What is Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)?
ESWL is a revolutionary new way of treating urinary stones. Simply put, this non-invasive device produces energy (shock waves) outside of the body (extracorporeal) and focuses the shock waves through the body and on to the urinary stone. The shock waves break the non-living stone without damaging living tissue with lithotripsy. The stone is broken into many small sand-like particles that will be eliminated with the urine.
What to Expect
After an anesthetic is given, a typical treatment may in some cases begin with a cystoscopy to visually inspect the urinary tract and x-rays to pinpoint the position of the stone.
In other cases, the position of the stone is precisely known and the patient is placed on a padded support chair which is lowered into a warm water bath. Fluoroscopic x-ray cameras are mounted on each side of the water bath and swing into place to visualize the exact position of the stone within the patient.
The urologist begins the treatment by moving the patient on the support chair in the water bath, using hydraulic controls to bring the stone to the exact point of focus of the shock waves. The shock wave energy is then transmitted through the water and the body without harming the tissue, which is elastic. The shock wave only acts on the brittle stone, causing disintegration. The treatment is monitored in real-time using fluoroscopy.
The expertise of urology specialists technicians Eduino Melo (left) and Mark Kilpatrick (right), shown here with the state-of-the-art lithotripter, is vital to the success of the hospital's urology program.