KIDNEY STONES

Causing over a million visits each year to the Emergency Room...

Kidney stones typically begin as tiny urinary crystals which slowly grow over time. Common symptoms when passing a kidney stone include flank or “side” pain which can be severe, nausea and vomiting, as well as blood in the urine. These symptoms are caused by intermittent blockage of the ureter (the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder) as the stone passes. 

CAUSES

Kidney stones often have no definite single cause, although several factors may increase your risk. 

Kidney stones form when your urine contains more crystal-forming substances- such as calcium, oxalate, and uric acid- then the fluid in your urine can dilute. At the same time, your urine may lack substances that prevent crystals from sticking together, creating an ideal environment for kidney stones to form. 

SYMPTOMS

  • Severe, sharp pain in the side & back, below the ribs
  • Pain that radiates to the lower abdomen & groin 
  • Pain that comes in waves & fluctuates in intensity 
  • Pain or burning sensation while urinating 
  • Pink, red, or brown urine 
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine 
  • A persistent need to urinate, urinating more often than usual or urinating in small amounts 
  • Nausea & vomiting 
  • Fever & chills if an infection is present

 

PREVENTION

Once a kidney stone is treated effectively, we work hard to determine its cause and educate our patients about ways to prevent future stones.  Preventive measures may include change in diet or possibly medications.  Unless contraindicated, we suggest drinking water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

DIAGNOSIS

A CT scan is usually performed to determine the size of the stone, the degree of obstruction the stone may be causing, and how far down the ureter (the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder) the stone has progressed. 

TREATMENT

A urologist will determine whether or not the stone is likely to pass on its own. If so, certain medications may be able to help it pass.  Medications are also available to help treat the pain, nausea and vomiting.

If the stone is not likely to pass on its own, we offer same-day procedures for stone treatment and removal. 

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is a noninvasive procedure in which urologists use sound waves to break up a stone into smaller pieces that can be passed. 

In addition, laser lithotripsy directly breaks up the stone, and the stone pieces are removed.  

Both ESWL and laser lithotripsy are outpatient procedures, so an overnight hospital stay is not necessary.