Lithotripsy: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

A kidney stone in the ureter

Lithotripsy is a way to treat kidney stones without surgery. It is also called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, or ESWL. This treatment uses sound waves to break kidney stones into tiny pieces. These pieces can then pass out of the body in the urine.

You may have a small amount of blood in your urine after this treatment. Your urine may be slightly pink or reddish. The blood in the urine often goes away after 2 days.

You may have a plastic tube inside one of your ureters. Ureters are the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder. The plastic tube is called a stent. It takes urine from your kidney to your bladder. This lets the stone pass more easily. Your doctor may remove the stent in about a week or two.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest as much as you need to after you go home.
  • You may do your regular activities. But avoid hard exercise or sports for a week. Wait until there is no blood in your urine and the stent is out.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol). Do not take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), or similar medicines unless your doctor tells you to.
    • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.

Other instructions

  • Urinate through the strainer the doctor gives you. Save any stone pieces, including those that look like sand or gravel. Take these to your doctor. This will help your doctor find the cause of your stones.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have severe pain when you urinate.
  • You have a fever over 38°C.
  • You are not able to urinate within 6 to 8 hours after the procedure.
  • Your urine is still bright red 48 hours after the procedure.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: April 3, 2017