The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has released new draft guidelines calling for faster treatment of patients with kidney stones experiencing severe pain.

The Institute is backing wider access to a procedure called shockwave lithotripsy (SWL), which beams soundwaves into the kidneys from outside the body to destroy the stones, without the need for traditional surgery.

According to the recommendations, eligible people should be offered the procedure within 48-hours of medical assessment.

More equipment may be needed for SWL, such as more responsive networks of mobile lithotripters, more fixed-site machines or better organised referral systems, which will have an impact on resources, but savings will be realised from reduced theatre time and hospital stays, the Institute noted.

“The use of shockwave lithotripsy is definitely a less traumatic experience for the patient. There are fewer problems afterwards and it reduces the amount of time patients have to wait to have the issue resolved,” said Andrew Dickinson, consultant urologist at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust and chair of the NICE committee.

“There has been an increase in surgery for renal and ureteric stones. Waiting times for treatment are increasing and this means that patient satisfaction is likely to be lower. This is why offering shockwave lithotripsy is important for both a patient’s health and mental wellbeing.”

The guidelines also recommend that patients should be offered a CT scan within 24 hours of initial medical assessment if they are in severe abdominal pain and kidney stones are suspected.