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Kidney stones can sometimes be broken up by sound waves produced by a lithotriptor in a procedure called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (SWL).
After an ultrasound device or fluoroscope is used to locate the stone, the lithotriptor is placed against the back, and the sound waves are focused on the stone, shattering it. Then the person drinks fluids to flush the stone fragments out of the kidney, to be eliminated in the urine.
Sometimes blood appears in the urine or the abdomen is bruised after the procedure, but serious problems are rare.