Lithotripsy, a greek word that means "stone crushing", is a technique that uses focused energy waves to break apart kidney stones without damaging nearby tissue. Lithotripsy utilizes a medical device called a lithotripter to generate energy in a targeted manner to disintegrate kidney stones so that they can pass easily out of the body.
A German company called Dornier originally developed this technology for medical use in the 1970s and 1980s. The first lithotripter, the Dornier HM3, was commercially sold for the first time in 1983. In 1984, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved lithotripsy for shockwave fragmentation of kidney stones.