Retrospective review of 298 extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) treatments was undertaken to determine the factors which influence radiation exposure during ESWL. Fluoroscopy time averaged 160 seconds (3-509), and the average number of spot films taken per patient was 26 (5-68). The average stone burden was 19.3 mm (3-64). Average calculated skin surface radiation exposure was 17.8 R per treatment. Radiation exposure increased with increasing stone burden and patient weight. Stones treated in the ureter resulted in a higher average patient radiation exposure than for renal stones (19 R vs 16 R), even though the average size of these ureteral stones (11.3 mm) was significantly less than the mean. However, type of anesthetic (general or regional) used was not a significant factor. Operator training, experience, and familiarity with radiation physics should significantly decrease the amount of imaging time and consequent patient radiation exposure during ESWL.
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