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July 25, 1986

Stones Are Crushed and Many Patients Elated By Results of New ESWL Therapy

JAMA. 1986;256(4):437-439. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380040011003

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"LIKE A LOUD cap pistol... a staple gun... a rifle shot." Whatever the aural image, these descriptions echo the new sound of success for urologists vanquishing an age-old foe: kidney stones.

The blasts—lasting a fraction of a second each but occurring up to 1800 times in the course of one usual treatment—are made by the Dornier Kidney Lithotripter, or "stone crusher," a device developed by the German aerospace corporation (and marketed by Dornier Medical Systems, Inc, Marietta, Ga) for disintegrating renal and upper ureteral calculi by means of acoustic shock waves (JAMA [MEDICAL NEWS] 1983;249:2434-2435).

Seldom has a new medical therapy— not to speak of one requiring an outlay of nearly $2 million for equipment— gained so many satisfied adherents so fast. According to a report issued this May by the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) (Health Technology Case Study 36: Effects of Federal Policies in Extracorporeal Shock Wave