How Long After Lithotripsy To Pass Stones (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 4 Weeks To 8 Weeks

Lithotripsy is a surgical method that is used to treat stones in the kidney. For smaller kidney stones, the procedure of lithotripsy is not used because small kidney stones can be removed by using medicines and they usually have the tendency to pass through the urinary tract because of their extremely small size.

When used with proper medications, the smaller kidney stones can easily pass through the urinary tract and thus get excreted out of the body through urine. However, the process of Lithotripsy is used in cases when kidney stones are big.

How Long After Lithotripsy To Pass Stones?

Size Of StoneTime
5 mm to 6 mm4 weeks to 6 weeks
6 mm to 7 mm6 weeks to 7 weeks
Above 7 mm7 weeks to 8 weeks

Multiple factors affect the time for how long it will take for kidney stones to pass through the urinary tract after the procedure of Lithotripsy, such as the accuracy of the person doing the procedure, frequency of the shockwaves passed through the kidney stones and the precision of the lithotripter. However, there is one major time-determining factor that plays a major role in determining the time for how long after Lithotripsy will the kidney stones pass.

The major factor is the size of kidney stones. Lithotripsy is majorly used for kidney stones that are above the size of 5 mm. However, kidney stones can vary in size above 5 mm as well. The three major categories of the size of kidney stones are 5 mm to 6 mm, 6 mm to 7 mm, and above 7mm.

For kidney stones that range between size of 5 mm to 6 mm, it takes the least time. On average, it takes about a minimum of 4 weeks to 6 weeks for them to pass after the procedure of Lithotripsy is done.

Secondly, for kidney stones which range between size of 6 mm to 7 mm, it takes more time as compared to kidney stones ranging between 5 mm to 6 mm in size. On average, it takes about a minimum of 6 weeks to 7 weeks for them to pass after the procedure of Lithotripsy is done.

Lastly, for kidney stones which are of size 7 mm and above, it takes the maximum amount of time. On average, it takes about a minimum of 7 weeks to 8 weeks for them to pass after the procedure of Lithotripsy is done.

Why Does It Take That Long For Stones To Pass After Lithotripsy?

The process of Lithotripsy is majorly used in cases when the size of kidney stone is relatively larger than a size of 5 mm. The major reason behind that is that kidney stones that are smaller than 5 mm in size can pass through the urinary tract. On the other hand, kidney stones which are larger than 5 mm in size are unable to pass through the urinary tract. Thus for such kidney stones, the process of Lithotripsy is used. 

In the process of Lithotripsy, the patient is first given a sedative or anesthesia so the patient remains still during the procedure. Then the patient is positioned in such a way that the target place is directly below the device that is known as a lithotripter. The target positive is the place where the kidney stone to be treated is located in the kidney. 

Once the part is positioned, the lithotripter emits shockwaves of a certain frequency directly to the place where the kidney stone is located. The process is being performed until the time the kidney stone starts breaking. In most cases, it takes several thousands of shock waves to break down a particular kidney stone.  

Conclusion

Apart from size, the process of Lithotripsy is also used when either the kidney stones are blocking the flow of urine or causing internal bleeding or infection. In such cases, even if the size of kidney stone is too small, they are causing internal damage, or bleeding, or extreme pain and when medications or any other treatment method is not proving its effectiveness, the process of Lithotripsy is used to remove such kidney stones. 

References

  1. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM198802183180701
  2. http://spencert.sg-host.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/The-Physics-of-Shock-Wave-Lithotripsy.pdf
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