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Is it safe to have another lithotripsy?

Q: Within the last 17 years I have had 20 lithotripsy surgeries and I have a stone that is the size of 11 mm. Is it safe to have another lithotripsy? I was told you can only have so many lithotripsy surgeries, is this true?

A:Extra-corporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL), a technique used to treat kidney and ureteric stones are known to be a safe procedure with no known established long-term side effects. However, it is important to mention here that, some studies both in animals and humans have pointed towards a small and an insignificant risk for a reversible damage to the parenchyma (body) of the kidney, minimal impairment of kidney function and an insignificant rise in blood pressure. But most of these studies have had shortcomings in their conclusion, making it still debatable about the definite long term risks of ESWL. Some believe that changes in the technique of the shock wave parameters including the rate, intensity and focal positioning of the shock waves may help in minimizing these effects. My advice would be to undertake a repeat metabolic and chemical analysis of the recurrent forming stones and the 24-hour urine studies which would help in redefining your continued medical treatment. All of these are intended to reduce the chances of recurrent stone formation thereby minimizing the need for repeated surgical interventions.

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