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Urology. 2005 Nov;66(5):941-4.

Shock wave lithotripsy success determined by skin-to-stone distance on computed tomography.

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Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, Wisconsin 53792, USA.



To evaluate whether the skin-to-stone distance (SSD), body mass index (BMI), and Hounsfield unit (HU) density can be used as independent predictors of stone-free (SF) status after shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) of lower pole kidney stones. No studies have evaluated the SSD by non-contrast-enhanced computed tomography (NCCT) as a predictor of SWL success. Studies have suggested that the BMI and HU density of urinary calculi on NCCT may predict the SF rate after SWL.


The radiographs of 64 patients treated with SWL (DoliS lithotripter) from March 2000 to April 2004 with lower pole kidney stones measuring 0.5 to 1.5 cm on NCCT were reviewed. The average SSD was calculated by measuring three distances from the center of the stone to the skin (0 degrees, 45 degrees, and 90 degrees angles) on NCCT. The BMI and HU density were determined, and chemical analysis was performed on all stones. Radiographic assessment of the kidneys, ureter, and bladder at 6 weeks categorized patients into the SF or residual stone group. Logistic regression was fit, using SSD, BMI, and HU density as predictors, to assess the SF rates after SWL.


Of 64 patients, 30 were SF and 34 had residual stones. The mean SSD was 8.12 +/- 1.74 cm for the SF group versus 11.53 +/- 1.89 cm for the residual stone group (P <0.01). Logistic regression analysis revealed only SSD to be a significant predictor of outcome (odds ratio 0.32, 95% confidence interval 0.29 to 0.35, P <0.01). An SSD greater than 10 cm predicted treatment failure.


The SSD may predict the outcome after SWL of lower pole kidney stones. SWL in patients with an SSD greater than 10 cm is likely to fail. The use of the SSD may be transferable to the treatment of all urinary stones, regardless of location.

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