by Carmack A

Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL)

ESWL is used to remove a stone that:

  • Does not pass after a certain amount of time and causes constant pain
  • Is too large to pass on its own
  • Blocks the flow of urine
  • Causes ongoing urinary tract infections
  • Damages kidney tissue or causes constant bleeding

Shock waves from the outside of the body are passed to the stone. The shock waves will crush the stone into small fragments. This makes it easier to pass the stone in urine.

some cases, ESWL may need to be done more than ones to get the stone small enough.


Kidney stones. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: Accessed April 1, 2019.

Kidney stones. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: Accessed April 1, 2019.

Nephrolithiasis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: . Updated March 22, 2019. Accessed April 1, 2019.

Treatment for kidney stones. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: Updated May 2017. Accessed April 1, 2019.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD
  • Review Date: 03/2019
  • Update Date: 04/01/2019