The process of using shock waves or ultrasonic waves to break up calculi (stones) inside the kidneys, upper ureters, and gallbladder for excretion. There are 2 different procedures: extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy (ESWL), performed to break up small stones, and percutaneous lithotripsy, performed on larger stones. ESWL uses a machine called a lithotripter, which produces external shock waves. In percutaneous lithotripsy, a nephroscope (an instrument for viewing the kidney) is inserted into the kidney and an ultrasonic probe is directed through the nephroscope to destroy the stone. Ureteric colic (severe spasmodic pain in the side, occurring if the ureter is obstructed by small fragments of stone) may occur after ESWL. People treated for gallstones may need drug treatment to aid the final elimination of stone residues.


Online Medical Dictionary: Your essential reference to over 5000 medical terms.