Lithotripsy Specialist

Urological Associates

Urologists located in Charlottesville, VA

Sometimes a kidney stone is small enough to pass out of your body without getting stuck. But when your stone is too large or too painful, the doctors at Urological Associates may recommend a lithotripsy procedure to break the stone into tiny pieces that can safely travel through your urinary tract. If you have questions about kidney stones, or you’d like to learn whether you’re a good candidate for lithotripsy, call the office in Charlottesville, Virginia, or use the online booking feature.

Lithotripsy Q & A

What is lithotripsy?

Lithotripsy is a procedure to break kidney stones into small pieces so they can safely pass out of your body through your urine. Kidney stones develop when minerals and other substances normally found in your urine begin to stick together, forming a crystal that gets larger over time. The most common type of kidney stone consists of calcium oxalate.

Stones that begin in your kidneys can stay in your kidneys, or they can travel out of the kidneys, down into the ureter, and into the bladder. Once a kidney stone makes it into the bladder, there’s a good chance that it will naturally leave your body with your urine.

When kidney stones are small, they may travel out of your body without causing any problems. Large stones, however, cause intense pain as they move through your urinary tract. Kidney stones that are too large can get stuck inside the kidneys or in the ureter, where they can block the flow of urine and lead to serious problems.

What symptoms develop when I have kidney stones?

When you have kidney stones, you’ll develop symptoms such as:

  • Sharp, cramping pain in your back and side
  • Pain in your lower abdomen that may spread to the groin
  • Frequent urination
  • Burning during urination
  • Hematuria or blood in your urine
  • Nausea and vomiting

The location of your pain changes as a kidney stone works its way through your urinary tract.

What are the different types of lithotripsy?

The doctors at Urological Associates are experts in performing three types of lithotripsy:

Ultrasonic lithotripsy

Your doctor uses a probe that emits high-frequency sound waves to break up the kidney stone. The ultrasonic waves safely pass through your body until they meet dense stones, and then the wave pulses pulverize the stones.

Electrohydraulic lithotripsy (EHL)

This technique breaks down kidney stones using a flexible probe that sends out electrical shock waves. You’ll need to be under general anesthesia during an EHL.

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL)

Your doctor performs ESWL using pressure waves that travel through your body, target kidney stones, and break them into small pieces. This procedure usually requires sedation or light anesthesia and large stones may require several treatments.

If you develop a sudden, sharp pain in your back and side, call Urological Associates or book an appointment online.