Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are one of the most common reasons to see a urologist. More than 1 million people in the US will develop a stone this year. Kidney stones are composed of minerals or salts from the urine. The most common type of stone is calcium oxalate. The second most common type of stones are uric acid stones. The main risk factors for stone formation are diet dehydration, and metabolic factors.
Most common symptoms associated with passing a kidney stone:

  • Pain when urinating
  • Blood in urine
  • Sharp back or flank pain
  • Sharp pain in the lower abdomen
  • Nausea/vomiting

Treatment of Stones

Kidney stones can be treated in different ways. Shockwave lithotripsy (SWL or ESWL) is used to treat stones in the kidney or ureter (tube that drains the kidney). Soundwaves are used to break the stone into smaller pieces that are easier to pass.

Ureteroscopy is used to treat kidney stones in the kidney or ureter. A small camera is advanced through the urethra and bladder, into the ureter and kidney. Stones can be removed with a basket-like devices or broken into smaller pieces with a laser. There is no incision involved. A temporary, small plastic tube called a stent is placed in the kidney to protect it after surgery.

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PNL or PCNL) is performed by making a small incision in the back and placing a tube directly into the kidney. This is reserved for very large kidney stones (staghorn calculus) or based on location of the stone. Often a tube is left in the kidney and may be attached to a bag outside the body for temporary drainage.

Prevention of Stones

Half of all people who have a kidney stone will develop another one. Diet changes, fluid intake, and even certain medications can help reduce your risk of forming another stone. You may be asked to performed a specialized urine test (24-hour urinalysis) in order to help determine your risk factors.

Ask your urologist or schedule an appointment today in order to see which is the best treatment option for you.