Detection of Significant Variation in Acoustic Output of an Electromagnetic Lithotriptor

Yuri A. Pishchalnikov, James A. McAteer, R. Jason VonDerHaar, Irina V. Pishchalnikova, James C. Williams, Andrew P. Evan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations


Purpose: We describe the observation of significant instability in the output of an electromagnetic lithotriptor. This instability had a form that was not detected by routine assessment, but rather was observed only by collecting many consecutive shock waves in nonstop regimen. Materials and Methods: A Dornier® DoLi-50 lithotriptor used exclusively for basic research was tested and approved by the regional technician. This assessment included hydrophone measures at select power levels with the collection of about 25 shock waves per setting. Subsequent laboratory characterization used a fiberoptic hydrophone and storage oscilloscope for data acquisition. Waveforms were collected nonstop for hundreds of pulses. Results: Output was typically stable for greater than 1,000 shock waves but substantial fluctuations in acoustic pressures were also observed. For example, output at power level 3 (mean peak positive acoustic pressure ± SD normally 44 ± 2 MPa) increased dramatically to greater than 50 MPa or decreased significantly to approximately 30 MPa for hundreds of shock waves. The cause of instability was eventually traced to a faulty lithotriptor power supply. Conclusions: Instability in lithotriptor acoustic output can occur and it may not be detected by routine assessment. Collecting waveforms in a nonstop regimen dramatically increases sampling size, improving the detection of instability. Had the instability that we observed occurred during patient treatment, the energy delivered may well have exceeded the planned dose. Since the potential for adverse effects in lithotripsy increases as the dose is increased, it would be valuable to develop ways to better monitor the acoustic output of lithotriptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2294-2298
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • acoustics
  • adverse effects
  • kidney
  • lithotripsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology

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