What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are crystal structures that solidify within the urinary tract. Nearly 12% of men and 5% of women in the U.S. will develop kidney stones. Most kidney stones are microscopic and leave the body unnoticed. However, larger stones can cause severe pain when passed or may need to be surgically removed.
What causes kidney stones?
There are a number of causes for kidney stone development. Below are the most common causes:
- dehydration (the leading cause of kidney stones)
- high dietary intake of any of the following:
- animal protein
- sugars (even natural sugars, such as fruit juice)
- patient or family history of disease, including Crohn’s Disease or Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- patient or family history of kidney stones with undetermined cause
How can I prevent kidney stones?
The first step in preventing the development of kidney stones is to drink plenty of water. Recommended consumption is 8 to 10 glasses a day, with urine being clear or pale yellow. Dark yellow urine is an indication that the patient is not drinking enough water. Dietary changes, such as reducing animal protein and salt intake, can also help in prevention. See our blog article for a simple guide to avoid kidney stones.
How do I know if I have kidney stones?
Most patients experience pain in their side or back when they have a kidney stone. Depending on the size and shape of the stone, symptoms can vary from mild to severe pain.The most prevalent symptom is blood in the urine and pain in the side or back. Other symptoms, depending of the severity of the condition, can include abnormal urine color, fever, nausea, chills, and vomiting. Kidney stones can be diagnosed with a physical examination, blood analysis, urinalysis, abdominal CT scan or with an intravenous pyelogram.
What are the other symptoms of kidney stones?
- blood in the urine
- abnormal urine color
- nausea with chills and vomiting
How does The Urology Place diagnose kidney stones?
- physical examination
- blood analysis
- abdominal CT scan
- intravenous pyelogram (an x-ray of the urinary tract using a dye injected into the patient’s arm to highlight the organs, allowing the technician to detect abnormalities).
Can I treat my kidney stones at home?
Although many small stones can be naturally flushed out of your system by drinking large amounts of fluid (about 8-10 glasses per day), we still recommend you schedule an appointment with us if you think you might have kidney stones. It is important to confirm whether or not you have kidney stones or another underlying medical condition before trying any treatment.
How do you treat kidney stones at The Urology Place?
The doctors at The Urology Place use a number of treatments for kidney stones depending on the shape of the stone and the severity of your condition. We use conservative therapies whenever possible. For example, certain medications can break the stones into smaller pieces for easier passage or allow the ureter to dilate to possibly pass the stones. Larger stones, however, are treated in one of the following ways:
During this non-invasive treatment, the patient is sedated while the surgeon uses X-ray imaging to target the kidney stones and transmit high-energy sound waves directly to the affected area. The waves pass through the body and break the stones into smaller pieces that can then travel out of the body through the urinary tract.
During this procedure, the doctor removes the kidney stone using a ureteroscope and lasers while the patient is anesthetized. This does not require incisions, but is a more invasive procedure. The ureteroscope allows the doctor to visually locate and remove the stones. If necessary,the doctor will implant a temporary stent, which is a floppy tube that holds the ureter open, allowing the kidney to drain safely.
During this procedure, the doctor makes a small incision in the lower back and inserts a catheter into the kidney. The catheter allows the doctor to locate and view the stones with a microscopic camera and use specialized tools to remove the stone or break it into small pieces. The stone then drains through the catheter along with urine. This is more invasive and will require a 2-3 day hospital stay in most cases.
robotic or traditional open surgery
Used only when other therapies are unsuccessful, during this procedure the doctor makes an incision into the abdomen or side to access the kidney and remove the stones. Once removed, the doctor places a catheter (small tube) into the kidney to drain urine until the patient has recovered. This procedure is rare and requires a more extensive hospital stay and recovery time.