Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy effectively fragments urinary calculi in the upper urinary tract and upper ureter. These fragments pass completely by 3 months in 77.4 per cent of the patients with single stones. Risk of obstruction, increased postoperative pain, need for additional urological operations and retained fragments are low for stones less than 1 cm. in size. As the number of stones treated or single stone size increases above 1 cm. the risk for these factors increases. Adjunctive urological surgical management is required in 9 per cent of the patients preoperatively and 8 per cent postoperatively. Only 0.6 per cent of the patients require some type of open operation to resolve the stone problems after extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. Hemorrhage, obstruction by fragments, severe pain and urinary infection all constitute known complications and require careful urological management of all patients. Hospitalization averages 2 days after treatment and patients usually return to work within a few days after they are discharged from the hospital.