Shockwave lithotripsy for urolithiasis: a 12-month analysis of referral data to a metropolitan Australian Hospital

Joseph Swaminadan Jaya, Phi Nguyen, Henley Tran, John Bailie, John Brookes, Eren Tan, Philip McCahy


Background: Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (SWL) is still an important option in the treatment of renal tract stones. SWL is not without its limitations and alternatives should be considered. This study investigates the referral data to a new SWL planning meeting to identify reasons why SWL was not offered.

Methods: A review of 12 months of data prospectively collected at a weekly stone meeting was supplemented with a retrospective chart analysis to identify the source of all referrals for SWL. The principal reason for diverting a patient to other stone management was noted.

Results: 142 patients (median age 52 years) were referred for SWL over the 12-month period. SWL was not recommended in 40 (28.2%) patients. SWL was most commonly contraindicated due to excessive stone size±position (32.5%), anatomical complexity (25.0%) and radiolucency on x-ray (10.0%). The majority of patients who were diverted away from SWL were referred from an emergency department (32.5%) and the general urology clinics (20.0%).

Conclusions: A significant portion of patients referred for SWL prove unsuitable for this method of stone clearance. This highlights an educational gap amongst clinicians regarding the indications and more importantly contraindications for SWL. Only 6.3% of total referrals originated from general practice suggesting a lack of awareness of the process of direct referral for SWL. Improving this with guidelines will relieve demand in outpatient clinics and help streamline patient care.


Lithotripsy, Nephrolithiasis, Referral, Shockwave, Urolithiasis

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