Without entering the kidney with surgery, kidney stones can be broken up with high-energy sound waves. The process uses a device called a lithotriptor. One type uses sound waves, while the other type uses ultrasound (sound waves we cannot hear). These waves travel easily through the soft tissues of the body without any damage. The stones absorb the energy from these waves and break up. Stone fragments are then passed in the urine. The treatment is not painful, but passing the stone fragments may be. For this reason, the urinary tract is dilated for lithotripsy. Certain types of stones will respond to this treatment better than others.
If lithotripsy is indicated, stone removal may be fairly simple. Your recovery time will be much shorter than with surgery. However, this procedure does not alter the reasons that the stones formed. To prevent future stone development, follow the therapy and dietary changes that your health care provider recommends.