Patient Information

Anne Ferguson Building,
Western General Hospital,
Crewe Road South,
Edinburgh EH4 2XU
Contact Telephone Number:       
Monday to Friday - 8:00am-4:00pm - 0131 537 1602


Please read all the following information now.

You have been referred to the Scottish Lithotriptor Centre for treatment of your kidney stones. 
We began treating patients when the Centre opened in September 1987. To achieve the best possible outcome for you our experienced staff are here to help and support you throughout your visit.
Normally, we would expect your visit to the department not to exceed 3 hours.

Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL)   What is Lithotripsy?

Lithotripsy shockwave treatment pulverises your stone into sand like particles which will pass out in your urine. The Lithotriptor machine breaks over 85% of all stones treated. A full explanation of the treatment and further information will be given to you on the day.


  • It will NOT be possible to treat you if you are taking Aspirin, Warfarin, Dabigatran (Pradaxa) or Clopidogrel or any other blood thinning medicine.
  • If you are taking Aspirin, Clopidogrel or any other blood thinning medicine regularly it will be necessary for you to STOP taking these SEVEN DAYS prior to your appointment. Stop Dabigatran for 5days before your appointment.  BEFORE doing this please CONTACT YOUR GP  for advice as there may be reasons why you should not stop taking this.
  • Even one dose of aspirin within 7 days may stop your treatment.  Over the counter painkillers may contain Aspirin. Please check.
  • Paracetamol, Ibuprofen and Diclofenac (Voltarol) will not prevent you receiving treatment.
  • If you are taking Warfarin please contact the Centre immediately as alternative arrangements will need to be made.
  • Do not stop taking your other routine medicines.
  • If you have a pacemaker or any other electronic device please contact the centre immediately.
  • If you have pre-planned foreign travel within two weeks after your appointment please contact the Centre.
  • Please bring someone with you for your appointment.
  • There is no need to fast prior to the procedure.

Your appointment

We will carry out your treatment as a day case. Please do not cancel your appointment unless it is absolutely necessary.  Contact us as soon as possible if you must change your appointment in order that this may be rescheduled.  This allows us to offer your appointment to someone else.  Failure to do this may result in your name returning to the bottom of the waiting list. 

What can I expect?

We will require a sample of your urine so please do not empty your bladder when you come into the Hospital. On arrival in the Department you will have an x-ray and a nursing assessment. Our nurse will explain the procedure to you and give you a painkiller. Stronger painkillers may be required during the treatment and can help to improve success. However if you receive the stronger painkiller you must not travel home alone, drive or operate machinery for 24 hours. For this reason we ask that you are accompanied to the centre, or at least arrange to be collected following your treatment. If you come alone you cannot have the stronger painkiller and the treatment may not be as effective.
Please bring a dressing gown, slippers and a change of underwear with you as your underwear may come in contact with the gel used during treatment. 

How does it work?

The procedure consists of focused shockwaves delivered from a cushion placed at your side which breaks up the stone. Disintegration of the stone occurs and the gravel and particles of stone are passed out in your urine. You will be lying flat for approximately 30 to 45 minutes while your treatment takes place.
Lithotripsy treatment does not actually remove the stone but instead breaks it into small particles which are passed out in your urine in the days following treatment.

Does it hurt?

Whilst having treatment you will hear and be aware of a tapping sensation from the Lithotriptor.  Patients’ experience of this varies.  Some feel very little discomfort while others may require extra pain relief; it is for this reason that we ask that you are accompanied to the Centre. Your treatment may be compromised if you need stronger pain killers which cannot be given as you have come alone.

Will I only require one treatment?

Some patients require more than one treatment to their stone.  This may be because it is larger than average, particularly hard or you have more than one stone.  If you require further treatment an appointment will be made while you are in the Department for your next visit.  If the treatment has been successful then it may be possible to have an x-ray at your local hospital which we will review and a letter will be sent to your Urologist and GP. If this X-ray shows you require further treatment then you will receive an appointment through the post for this.

After treatment

It is important that you increase your fluid intake following your treatment.  This is to encourage stone fragments to pass out of your system.  You may feel rather tired the following day but there are no restrictions on your normal day to day activities.
If you have been given an injection of stronger painkillers you must not drive for 24 hours. 
Some skin redness may occur over the treatment area, this is normal.  You will be aware of blood in your urine following lithotripsy, which should disappear very quickly and is a recognised side effect of the treatment. There is no lasting adverse effect from this. If you can, take plenty of exercise. Swimming is especially beneficial in aiding passage of stone fragments.
Attend your GP immediately if you feel feverish, unwell, or suffer flu like symptoms following treatment. There may be pain or discomfort as you pass the fragments in the days following your treatment, which can be quite intense but is generally relieved by your own regular painkillers. If the pain becomes severe or lasts several days and is not controlled by your own pain relief we recommend you contact your GP in the first instance or NHS 24 Scotland (08454 242424). Please have this number near at hand. 

Last Reviewed: 04/01/2013