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J Acoust Soc Am. 2005 Oct;118(4):2667-76.

Modeling elastic wave propagation in kidney stones with application to shock wave lithotripsy.

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  • 1Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Boston University, 110 Cummington Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA. robinc@bu.edu


A time-domain finite-difference solution to the equations of linear elasticity was used to model the propagation of lithotripsy waves in kidney stones. The model was used to determine the loading on the stone (principal stresses and strains and maximum shear stresses and strains) due to the impact of lithotripsy shock waves. The simulations show that the peak loading induced in kidney stones is generated by constructive interference from shear waves launched from the outer edge of the stone with other waves in the stone. Notably the shear wave induced loads were significantly larger than the loads generated by the classic Hopkinson or spall effect. For simulations where the diameter of the focal spot of the lithotripter was smaller than that of the stone the loading decreased by more than 50%. The constructive interference was also sensitive to shock rise time and it was found that the peak tensile stress reduced by 30% as rise time increased from 25 to 150 ns. These results demonstrate that shear waves likely play a critical role in stone comminution and that lithotripters with large focal widths and short rise times should be effective at generating high stresses inside kidney stones.

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