Kidney stones develop when chemicals in the urine become concentrated to the extent of the formation of solid crystals, which result in stones. Most stones pass by themselves or may be treated medically with diet and medication to assist in dissolving of the stone. Some become lodged in the urinary tract, causing intense pain, blockage and/or infection. The majority of kidney stones may be removed by extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy (ESWL), referred to as lithotripsy. This is a non-surgical procedure utilizing shock waves to break stones into fragments that are small enough to be passed during normal urination.
The University of Virginia Department of Urology was one of the initial sites to introduce lithotripsy services in the United States back in 1984. Since 1984, more than 9,000 lithotripsy treatments have been done here in Charlottesville. The Department uses a Dornier HM3 Lithotripter for procedures. This machine is considered the most effective lithotripter for the treatment of kidney stones. Additionally, due to the experience of our physicians and staff, our success rate for patients who received unsuccessful treatment for their kidney stones from other locations is very high.
Some patients with large stones or more complex stone disease may require alternative treatment. Laser or ultrasound energy may be used to destroy the stones. Urologists at the University of Virginia successfully treat over 50 annual patients through the use of this technology.