When lithotripsy was introduced in the 1980s, it was a groundbreaking procedure. Treatment for kidney stones used to involve major surgery and general anesthesia. Lithotripsy changed that, becoming the only available non-invasive treatment or kidney stones. While it does not work for every patient, this treatment is still popular today.

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1. Procedure

Lithotripsy uses a series of shock waves to break up kidney stones. A x-ray focuses the sounds waves in the right area. The stones are vibrated into smaller pieces that can easily pass through the rest of the urinary system and out of the body.

kidney stones pain Peter Dazeley / Getty Images
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