Shock wave lithotripsy is a method for treating kidney stones that prevents the need for painful surgery. However, new research has concluded that the forces used in the treatment can damage surrounding tissue, including the pancreas. Pancreatic damage could then lead to an increased risk of diabetes .
Until this point, shock wave lithotripsy has always been considered as completely safe, and has often been heralded as a revolution in kidney stone treatment. The recent study, published in the May issue of the Journal of Urology, appears to plunge this into doubt.
Experts traced kidney stone patients from 1985 and compared different treatment forms. The shock wave patients were far more likely to suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure. Although the exact mechanisms for the risk increase are not clear, it seems that the shock wave treatment damages cells that then lead to long-term complications. Those patients who had the highest intensity of shock wave treatments also had the highest diabetes risk.
Experts remain unclear on whether more recent shockwave machines increase or decrease diabetes risks. One expert in kidney stone treatment was reported as saying that: “Prudence, and the need for surveillance, is warranted.” Experts agree that shock wave treatments should not be discontinued.

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