What Are the Risks of Shock Wave Lithotripsy?

Infection, internal bleeding and kidney damage are some of the risks of shock wave lithotripsy, according to Healthline. Shock wave lithotripsy may not crush all the stones, and the patient may have to repeat the procedure or try an alternative treatment procedure to get rid of his kidney stones, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Some patients experience bleeding around the kidneys after this procedure and may require a blood transfusion, reports Healthline. In certain cases, the stone fragments block the ureter and prevent the flow of urine out of the kidney, resulting in kidney infection.

Shock wave lithotripsy may cause tissue damage in the renal calyceal system and the organs surrounding the kidney, states PubMed Central. Damage to the area surrounding the kidney may include rupture of the spleen, rupture of the hepatic artery, perforation of the colon and hepatic hematoma. This procedure may also damage some of the blood vessels around the kidney, causing blood in urine

Even after shock wave lithotripsy, some stone fragments may be too large to pass through the urinary tract and may become stuck, according to WebMD. The patient may experience pain due to the passage of these stones. A specialist may have to remove them using a ureteroscope.

Shock wave lithotripsy is risky for pregnant patients, as the procedure could harm the fetus, according to WebMD. It is also not ideal for patients who have a bleeding disorder or kidneys with abnormal function or structure. Patients who have a cardiac pacemaker should not have this procedure without approval from their cardiologist, advises Johns Hopkins Medicine. Shock wave lithotripsy may damage rate-responsive pacemakers implanted in the abdomen.