Kidney Stones: Diagnosis and Treatment

Kidney Stones: Diagnosis and Treatment

Kidney stone, also known as renal calculi, is a solid collection of minerals and salts often made up of calcium and uric acid that form inside your kidneys. A kidney stone can affect any part of your urinary tract, from the kidney to the bladder. Stones in the kidney usually form when the urine in your body becomes concentrated, allowing minerals to crystallize and stick together. Kidney stones are one of the most painful medical conditions. Most smaller stones that remain in the kidney will pass on their own without treatment. However, you might need a procedure to break up or remove stones that don’t pass. Anyone may develop a kidney stone, but male above the age of forty are at high risk of developing a kidney stone.

Types

A kidney stone may be made up of different crystals. Following are the different types of kidney stones;

  • Calcium: Calcium stone is the most common type of kidney stone. They are often made of calcium oxalate (though they can consist of phosphate or maleate).
  • Uric Acid: This type of stone develops when urine is too acidic. They are more common in men than in women.
  • Struvite: Struvite stone is mostly found in women with urinary tract infection (UTIs). These stones can be large and may cause urinary obstruction.
  • Cystine: It is a rare type of kidney stone that occurs in both men and women who have genetic disorder cystinuria.

Symptoms

Kidney stones are known to cause severe pain. A kidney stone will not cause symptoms until it begins to moves within your kidney or starts moving down to the ureters. If the kidney stone gets stuck in ureters, it may block the flow of urine and cause the kidney to swell and the ureters to spasm, which causes severe pain. This severe pain is called renal colic. Other symptoms of a kidney stone include; blood in the urine, vomiting, nausea, chills, fever, discoloured or foul-smelling urine, frequent need to urinate, and urinating in a small amount.

As the stone moves through your urinary tract the pain may shift to a different body part or may increase in intensity.

Causes

There is no definite or single cause of forming a kidney stone, although several factors such as dehydration, obesity, a diet with a high level of protein, salt, or glucose, gastric bypass surgery, etc. may increase the risk of developing the stone disease.

Diagnosis

If the doctor or urologist suspects that you have a kidney stone, you may have diagnostic tests and physical exams that include 

  • A blood test for calcium, phosphorus, uric acid, and electrolytes, 
  • Urine test to check for crystals, bacteria, blood, and white cells, 
  • An examination of passed stones to determine their type, x-rays, 
  • MRI scans of the abdomen and kidneys, 
  • Abdominal CT scan.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the types and cause of kidney stone. Small kidney stones won’t require invasive treatment. A urologist may suggest drinking two to three quarts of water a day, pain relievers, and medical therapy that will help pass your kidney stone. For the treatment of large kidney stones that cause symptoms, a urologist may suggest more extensive treatment that includes:

  • Lithotripsy: Depending on the size and location of the kidney stone a doctor may recommend extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). It uses sound waves to create strong vibrations that break the stones into tiny pieces that can be passed in your urine.
  • Tunnel Surgery: If the stone has grown too large to pass or causes obstruction and infection in your kidney a urology surgeon may suggest removing stone through a small incision in your back.
  • Ureteroscopy: To remove smaller stone stuck in your ureter or kidney, your doctor may use an instrument called a ureteroscope to remove it.

Care at Uro Clinic Care

Uro Clinic Care’s experienced urologists and urologic surgeons work with doctors in nephrology, radiology and nutrition to ensure that you receive the most comprehensive care possible.

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