Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy of gallstones: results and 6-month follow-up in 141 patients

Radiology. 1991 Feb;178(2):509-12. doi: 10.1148/radiology.178.2.1987616.


A study of biliary shock wave lithotripsy of gallstones sponsored by Dornier Medical Systems, Munich, began in the United States in May 1988 to evaluate the efficacy and safety of extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) and the need for adjunctive therapy with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA). One hundred forty-one symptomatic patients with one to three gallstones 5-30 mm in diameter were randomized to treatment. One week before ESWL, patients were given either UDCA or placebo. This treatment was continued for 6 months. All patients underwent follow-up at predetermined intervals. According to the protocol, re-treatment for fragments larger than 5 mm in diameter could be performed only at 6 weeks; 26 (18%) of the 141 patients were retreated. At 6 months, the stone-free rates for single stones were as follows: patients with noncalcified stones receiving UDCA, 29%; patients with noncalcified stones receiving placebo, 24%; and patients with partially calcified stones receiving either UDCA or placebo, 6%. No significant difference was noted between the UDCA and placebo groups. At 6 months, the stone-free rates in patients with single, noncalcified stones 20 mm or less in diameter were 40% (UDCA) and 32% (placebo), which is superior to rates for those with solitary, noncalcified gallstones 21-30 mm in diameter and those with two or three stones.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Calcinosis / complications
  • Cholelithiasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Cholelithiasis / drug therapy
  • Cholelithiasis / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lithotripsy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ultrasonography
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / therapeutic use


  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid