April 16, 2024

What are the risks associated with ESWL for kidney stones?

Kidney stone removal is a common procedure that many individuals face. Many times, the preferred method of removal is a technique called Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL). A non-invasive option, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) employs shock waves to shatter stones into fragments small enough to be expelled from the body via the urine system. While the procedure is relatively safe, there are certain risks associated with the use of ESWL that should be considered before making a decision on treatment.

Potential for Unforeseen Side-Effects

When considering ESWL for kidney stones, it’s important to be aware of the potential for unforeseen side-effects. Though ESWL is a minimally invasive procedure with a high success rate and low risk of complications, it is not without risk. As with any medical procedure, there is potential for unforeseen side-effects, including the possibility of pain, bleeding, infection, and the formation of more kidney stones. Furthermore, the shock waves used during the procedure can cause damage to nearby organs and tissues, which can lead to other complications. It is important to discuss any potential risks and side-effects with your doctor before undergoing ESWL for kidney stones.

Risk of Injury to Surrounding Organs

Although ESWL is one of the safest treatments for kidney stones, it does come with some risks. The most common risk associated with ESWL for kidney stones is the risk of injury to surrounding organs. This can occur if the shockwave energy is not accurately directed towards the kidney stone. The shockwaves can cause bruising or even damage to organs close to the kidney stone, such as the bladder, ureters, intestines, and blood vessels. To avoid these risks, your doctor will carefully plan the ESWL treatment with the help of imaging tests like x-rays and ultrasounds.

Potential for Unpleasant Experience

ESWL for kidney stones is generally considered a safe procedure, but there are risks associated, including potential for an unpleasant experience. Patients may experience some discomfort or pain during the procedure, as well as nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal cramps. Additionally, there is potential for the procedure to cause bleeding or scarring, and to damage nearby organs. Patients should be sure to discuss the potential risks with their doctor prior to undergoing ESWL for kidney stones.


ESWL is a safe and effective treatment option for kidney stones, however, there are some risks associated with the procedure. These include pain, bleeding, infection, and damage to the urinary tract. Therefore, it is important to discuss all of the potential risks with your doctor before deciding if ESWL is the right treatment option for you.