40 years of ESWL – shock waves have replaced »open« renal surgery


40 years ago, on 7 February 1980, the first treatment of a kidney stone patient with shock waves was performed at the Department of Urology of Munich University Hospital based at the Grosshardern campus. Several STORZ MEDICAL employees from the company’s research, development and marketing departments were present to witness the historic event, which ushered in a new era in medical technology: the era of extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL).

In the following decades, stone therapy changed significantly. While in the first lithotripter models a water bath was used as a »stand-off« for coupling the shock waves, later lithotripter generations employed water cushions for coupling. The breakthrough in the non-invasive stone treatment was eventually achieved by equipping the lithotripters with a mechanism for stone localization in three-dimensional space. This development marked the beginning of the success story of contactless urinary stone fragmentation by the application of shock waves in Germany and around the globe. No other technological innovation in urology after World War II has spread as rapidly and extensively as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy has.1

By 1984, 1000 kidney stone patients had undergone extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. Until the present day, a total of about 2.5 million urolithiasis patients have been treated with STORZ MEDICAL lithotripters alone. Today, the focus is on personalized stone management, making it possible to tailor urolithiasis treatment to each patient’s specific requirements and needs. For these applications, STORZ MEDICAL offers its customers innovative solutions and a bespoke product portfolio. The electromagnetic cylindrical source developed by STORZ MEDICAL is the »heart« of our lithotripters. It enables in-line X-ray or ultrasound imaging to provide the most accurate in-situ localization of the concrements.

More information about the products we offer for urological applications can be found at: https://www.storzmedical.com/en/disciplines/introduction-urology


1) cf. Moll, F.; Krischel, M. (2015): Die Entwicklung der Extrakorporalen Schockwellenlithotripsie (ESWL) – ein Beitrag zur Medizintechnikgeschichte [The development of extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) – a contribution to the history of medical technology] pp. 186 – 188, in Halling T. et al. (Ed.): Urologie 1945-1990 [Urology 1945-1990], Berlin: Springer.



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Monday, 27 March 2023