The most common surgical procedure, lithotripsy involves the breaking down of any hardened mass like gallstones and kidney stones; that are present within the body. This procedure uses shockwaves to disintegrate the stones present in the bladder, the kidney or the ureter. The broken down pieces then easily leave the body by way of urine.
What is lithotripsy?
Simply put, lithotripsy is a non-invasive surgical procedure. Non-invasive because the surgery does not entail piercing the skin to remove the hardened mass/stones present inside the body.
How is lithotripsy performed?
Lithotripsy is a painless procedure that is performed under a normal dose of general anesthesia. However, before the procedure, the patient will be given antibiotics and pain relieving medications if required. The doctor will locate the exact place wherein the stones are present in the body with the help of an ultrasound test or an X-ray. The X-ray used is of a special kind known as fluoroscopy which is a type of X-ray movie.
If the stone the physician is working on is big in size, he may use a stent to pry the ureter open. A stent is a tube small in size that is made of flexible plastic.
About the procedure
The procedure involves the transmission of shock waves/sound waves that pass through the affected part and collide with the stones. This collision results in the breaking down of the stones into pieces. The process is continued until the stones become fragments that are small enough to pass through the urinary bladder and out of the body with the urine.
When is lithotripsy required?
When the kidney stones or the hardened mass present in the body become too large, they are unable to pass out of the body with urine. Besides, their size results in excruciating pain and may also block the urinary tract, hampering the urine flow. The presence of urine in the body for a long time may also give rise to an infection.
Once the pulse rate and blood pressure returns back to normal after lithotripsy, the patient is discharged from the hospital. If the doctor doesn’t advise otherwise, the patient may resume his normal chores and diet plan. It is however beneficial if the patient increases fluid intake. Increased fluid intake will result in excessive urges to urinate making the process of stone discharge through urine easier and fuss free.
The patient may however, notice a small amount of blood in the urine till after a few days of the procedure. There may also be the occurrence of bruises on the abdomen or the back of the patient. If the soreness is intolerable, the patient may be administered pain relieving medications. However, it is important that the medications are advised by trained medical personnel since some medicines are known to cause severe blood flow.
If the patient suffers from fever, burning while urinating, chills and/or severe back pain, it is advisable to consult the physician.