ISMST (International Society for Medical Shockwave Treatment)

Wolfgang Schaden, President of the ISMST

Dear Colleagues and Friends, dear Shockwave Family,

It is a great pleasure and an honour for me to invite you all to the 23rd World Congress of the ISMST in Vienna. Indeed, it was in Vienna that, on 14 June 1997, our society was founded by a small group of physicians fascinated by this new technology that appeared to have such huge potential to help our patients, without significant adverse side-effects or risks.

Right from the outset, we were keen to ensure that our society remained open-minded, welcoming new ideas, concepts and theories.

Most of our members were orthopaedic surgeons dealing with the classic four indications: tennis elbow, heel spur, shoulder calcifications, and bone nonunions. Back then, shockwave treatment was regarded as some sort of voodoo therapy’, so our first objective was to produce evidence to gain acceptance within the scientific community’. And it was a long and rocky road to obtain funding for the first clinical studies to perform randomized controlled trials. Once we had demonstrated the efficacy and safety of ESWT, we became more and more interested in the working mechanism of this wonderful tool. By then, our society was attracting extremely committed researchers keen to help us understand the mechanism that underlies shockwaves.

We developed a new understanding of the way shockwaves act on biological tissue: mechano-transduction describes the fact that shockwaves (mechanical impulses such as pressure, shear and tensile forces) are translated into biological signals that activate genes. Groups of genes then start to produce proteins (growth factors, etc.) which successfully trigger regenerative processes in pathological tissue. Even the body’s own stem cells can be activated to regenerate the affected area under the influence of shockwaves.

Meanwhile, interest in shockwave technology was steadily growing and spreading all over the world. So much so that the ISMST society now comprises almost 400 members from 60 countries across all continents.

Thanks to our society’s open-minded approach, we were able to broaden the scope of shockwave technology from the classic four to practically all disciplines of medicine. Indeed, ESWT is now used for all kinds of tendon and bone pathologies, wound healing disorders, pathologies in urology and sexual medicine, neurological pathologies such as spasticity, polyneuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, M. Alzheimer and muscle pathologies.

Clinical trials are underway in thoracic surgery, applying shockwaves to the open heart to stimulate heart muscle regeneration and, for patients with acute spinal cord injuries, as a causal therapy to modulate initial inflammation and stimulate early nerve regeneration.

It is thanks solely to the passionate commitment of our society’s members that this phenomenal development has been possible. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank in particular one of our founding members, Richard Thiele, who sadly passed away far too early.


And so, as you prepare to travel to Vienna, I am certain that you can look forward to another exciting congress packed with all the latest insights into the fascinating field that is shockwave medicine.

Welcome to Vienna!