The Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) aims to obtain the crushing of the kidney stone using shock waves produced by an ultrasonic generator.
Although the full success percentage in removing the kidney stone after ESWL is high (60-90% depending on the size and location of the stone, which must be no more than 2-3 cm in diameter), it is still possible the subsequent use of further completion treatments due to the persistence of lithiasis fragments in the kidney or ureter.
Treatment is performed in sedation. The targeting of the stone is performed by radioscopy or, if the stone is radiolucent, with the aid of ultrasound.
Possible complications of ESWL are represented by the appearance of renal colic, hyperpyrexia or macroscopic hematuria. Obstruction of the secondary excretory pathway in the presence of a lithiasic fragment may make it necessary in the postoperative phase to place an internal urethral catheter (stent) or, more rarely, percutaneous nephrostomy.
Other possible though rare complication (1%) is the formation of perirenal haematomas resulting from the action of the shock waves on renal parenchyma. This complication resolves spontaneously in almost all cases, and only exceptionally surgical treatment is needed.