Shock waves are defined as types of acoustic pressure waves that develop during sudden releases of energy. The best-known natural phenomenon is thunder following lightning. Another example is the “bang” an aircraft produces when it breaks the sound barrier. Both focused shock waves and unfocused sound waves are produced in these examples. Additionally, almost all other forms of energy are released during these natural discharges, including electrical, heat, light, and electromagnetic energy. Since the first medical application of acoustic waves was the disintegration of kidney stones in the early 1980’s, high energy, focused shock waves were the first to be studied and understood.
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