Shockwave lithotripsy is a noninvasive procedure done under general anesthesia to break up kidney stones. During the procedure, the kidney stone is visualized using ultrasound, an imaging method that does not use radiation. Then, a machine called a lithotripter is used to generate shockwaves that are focused on the stone. The pulse from the shockwaves breaks the stone into very small particles that are then able to be passed spontaneously in the urine.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Pediatric Kidney Stone Center offers shockwave lithotripsy using the most state-of-the-art lithotripter machines to ensure optimal safety and outcomes. It is performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning that after recovering from surgery for a few hours, a child can go home; they do not need to stay at the hospital overnight.
Since stones are not physically removed during the procedure, we encourage the child to strain their urine for a few days after to procedure to collect any small fragments that pass. Knowing the stone’s composition is critical to understanding what type of stone it is and informing what measures can be used to prevent the stone from coming back.
It's essential to have an experienced, comprehensive, integrated team for kidney stone care. The team at CHOP’s Kidney Stone Center believes in partnering with patients and their caregivers to determine which surgery is best. The team explains the treatment options — including the likelihood of each completely clearing the stone and the surgical and postsurgical experience — and then partners with families to help them make the most informed decision possible.
In addition to removing existing stones, the center’s team tries to prevent future kidney stones. Patients return for follow-up every six months for metabolic testing and an ultrasound to help the team understand what factors are driving stone formation. Once specific risk factors for kidney stone recurrence are identified, the team partners with families to create a long-term prevention plan that works best for them and their child.
The center team is involved in ongoing research efforts dedicated to better understanding why kidney stones are occurring earlier in life and the factors that lead to kidney stones in children. Their hope is to develop better methods to prevent stones from being a recurring disease over a lifespan and improve treatment options for children with kidney stones. Patients of the center have opportunities to participate in these research studies.