Electrohydraulic Lithotripsy (EHL)

Stones in your urinary tract and bile duct can sometimes be broken up with high-energy shock waves. This procedure is called electrohydraulic lithotripsy (EHL). EHL is often done in conjunction with Spyglass to break up large stones in the biliary and pancreastic system, this eliminating surgical intervention.

Why it is Done

EHL breaks up stones to make them easier to pass through your urinary tract. You may need this procedure if you have stones that are too large to pass without a lot of discomfort or that are stuck and won't easily pass.

What to Expect

  • Before you have EHL, a dye is injected into your arm to help your doctor locate on X-rays where the stone is. This helps make the procedure exact.
  • EHL is an outpatient procedure, meaning you go home the same day. You'll need someone to drive you because you will have general anesthesia to make you sleep during the procedure. It won't be safe for you to drive yourself home afterward.
  • You'll be asked not to drink or eat for a number of hours beforehand. Your doctor talks to you about this and advises you which medications to stop taking before EHL.
  • Your doctor inserts a flexible probe (ureteroscope) into your urethra, near the stone. The probe delivers an electric current that creates shock waves to break up the stone. The fragmented stone passes through your bladder or is extracted by your doctor during EHL.
  • EHL takes about 30 to 60 minutes. You remain at the clinic or hospital until your anesthesia wears off.
  • You might go home with pain medication. Stones that are breaking up can cause discomfort.
  • You usually can return to normal activities in a day or two.
  • Drink plenty of water in the weeks after EHL to help the stones pass.

What the Risks Are

EHL is generally safe. You're at higher risk for complications if you smoke or have a bleeding disorder.

Risks can include:

  • Damage to skin and internal organs
  • Infection
  • Pain as stone pieces pass
  • Failure of stone pieces to pass
  • Need for more treatment
  • Blood in urine

EHL might not be right if you:

  • Weigh more than 300 pounds
  • Are pregnant
  • Have a cardiac pacemaker
  • Have an abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Have a bleeding disorder
  • Have a severe skeletal deformity

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