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You should expect to receive sufficient pain and sedative medications so that you stay comfortable. Tell your care team if you are uncomfortable.

What are the risks and potential complications of lithotripsy?

Complications after lithotripsy are uncommon, but any medical procedure involves risk and potential complications. Complications may become serious in some cases. Complications can develop during the procedure or your recovery. 

Risks and potential complications of lithotripsy include: 

  • Adverse reaction or problems related to sedation, anesthesia or medications such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing 
  • Bleeding around the kidney
  • Bloody urine for a few days (common)
  • Discomfort when stone fragments pass through the urinary tract. Your doctor may insert a stent to help reduce this complication.
  • Infection
  • Repeat need for lithotripsy due to large stone fragments
  • Small risk of cancer due to radiation exposure. Your care team follows strict standards for X-ray techniques and will use the lowest amount of radiation possible to make the best images. Your doctor will generally not order an X-ray if you are pregnant due to the danger of radiation to an unborn child.
  • Soreness, discomfort and bruising in the abdomen or back (common)
  • Urinary tract obstruction from stone fragments

Reducing your risk of complications

You can reduce the risk of certain complications by: 

  • Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before your procedure and during recovery. This usually includes not eating or drinking for several hours before your lithotripsy.
  • Informing your doctor or radiologist if you are nursing or if there is any possibility of pregnancy
  • Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns such as fever, chills, or increase in pain
  • Taking your medications and returning for follow-up care exactly as directed
  • Telling all members of your care team if you have any allergies 

How do I prepare for my lithotripsy?

You are an important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before your procedure can improve your comfort and outcome. 

You can prepare for a lithotripsy by:

  • Answering all questions about your medical history, allergies, and medications. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
  • Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. This may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and blood thinners.  

Questions to ask your doctor

Having a lithotripsy can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. Contact your doctor with concerns and questions before your procedure and between appointments.

It is also a good idea to bring a list of questions to your appointments. Questions can include:

  • Why do I need lithotripsy? Are there any other options for treating my condition?
  • How long will the procedure take? When can I go home?
  • What restrictions will I have after the procedure? When can I return to work and other activities?
  • What kind of assistance will I need at home? Will I need a ride home?
  • How should I take my medications? 
  • How will you treat my pain?
  • What other tests or treatments might I need?
  • When should I follow up with you?
  • How should I contact you? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular hours.

What can I expect after my lithotripsy?

Knowing what to expect after a lithotripsy can help you get back to your everyday life as soon as possible. 

How will I feel after the lithotripsy?

You may have soreness and discomfort in your abdomen or back after lithotripsy. To reduce discomfort, take slow deep breaths. You will likely have pain medication to control your pain. You might feel a little drowsy from the sedative and pain medications you were given. Tell your doctor if your pain is not well controlled by your medication because it can be a sign of a complication.