Purpose of review: Ultrasonic propulsion is a novel technique that uses short bursts of focused ultrasonic pulses to reposition stones transcutaneously within the renal collecting system and ureter. The purpose of this review is to discuss the initial testing of effectiveness and safety, directions for refinement of technique and technology, and opinions on clinical application.
Recent findings: Preclinical studies with a range of probes, interfaces, and outputs have demonstrated feasibility and consistent safety of ultrasonic propulsion with room for increased outputs and refinement toward specific applications. Ultrasonic propulsion was used painlessly and without adverse events to reposition stones in 14 of 15 human study participants without restrictions on patient size, stone size, or stone location. The initial feasibility study showed applicability in a range of clinically relevant situations, including facilitating passage of residual fragments following ureteroscopy or shock wave lithotripsy, moving a large stone at the ureteropelvic junction with relief of pain, and differentiating large stones from a collection of small fragments.
Summary: Ultrasonic propulsion shows promise as an office-based system for transcutaneously repositioning kidney stones. Potential applications include facilitating expulsion of residual fragments following ureteroscopy or shock wave lithotripsy, repositioning stones prior to treatment, and repositioning obstructing ureteropelvic junction stones into the kidney to alleviate acute renal colic.