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Florida Hospital’s Kidney Stone Center was the first in the region to utilize ultrasound technology in kidney stone removal. Today, we continue to offer the industry’s most advanced, comfortable and effective treatments, like lithotripsy — an incredibly effective, noninvasive remedy for kidney stones. In fact, our Kidney Stone Center’s commitment to quality care has garnered us an honored endorsement through the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Request an appointment or a second opinion with one of our specialists today.

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What is Lithotripsy?

Lithotripsy is a noninvasive (the skin is not pierced) procedure used to treat kidney stones that are too large to pass through the urinary tract. Lithotripsy treats kidney stones by sending focused ultrasonic energy or shock waves directly to the stone first located with fluoroscopy (a type of X-ray “movie”) or ultrasound (high frequency sound waves). The shock waves break a large stone into smaller stones that will pass through the urinary system. Lithotripsy allows persons with certain types of stones in the urinary system to avoid an invasive surgical procedure for stone removal. In order to aim the waves, your doctor must be able to see the stones under X-ray or ultrasound. 
There are two types of shock wave technology. The original lithotripsy machines sent the shock waves through water in a tub in which the person being treated was placed. This technology remains in use today. More recently, machines have been developed that send shock waves through padded cushions on a table, so the procedure does not involve immersing a person in water.
Other procedures that may be used to treat kidney stones include:

  • Urethroscopy or ureteroscopy--endoscopic procedures in which stones in the urethra or ureter may be removed with a device inserted through a short, flexible, lighted tube, called an endoscope
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (tunnel surgery)--a surgical procedure for stones which cannot be treated with lithotripsy or endoscopic procedures. It involves the removal of a stone through a thin tube tunneled through a small incision in the back into the kidney.
  • Open surgery--a more invasive surgical procedure using a larger incision to directly access the stone
  • Stent--a synthetic, tubular device that may be used along with other procedures. A stent may be inserted through a special scope into the urinary tract to allow stones to pass more easily.

Locations for Lithotripsy