Kidney Stones

General Facts

Kidneys create urine when they filter the toxins in the blood. Sometimes salts and other minerals in urine collect together and promotes the formation of small stones in the Kidneys. The size of the stones can vary from a grain of sugar grain to a ping pong ball, but however if they don’t provoke a blockage, they are very rarely noticed. The kidney stones cause tremendous pain if they start to move towards the urethra (the small tubes that go to the bladder). Although kidney stones come from kidneys, if they are allowed to be eliminated naturally, they will go through the urinary tract bladder and urethra but sometimes they can make urination difficult or even block the urinary flow.

Symptoms and Causes

When the stone moves through the urinary tract you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain in the back, abdomen or pelvic area
  • Frequent and/or painful urination
  • Burn like sensation during urination
  • Hematuria – blood in urine
  • Severe discomfort
  • Nausea and vomiting. Small stones can sometimes pass through the urinary tract without symptoms, but in the case of severe intense pain in the back or abdomen, it is advisable one requests medical assistance.

Kidney stone are more common in:

  • Males than females
  • People who don’t drink enough liquids
  • Are in between the ages of 30 and 60
  • Have a family medical history that includes kidney stones

Investigation and Diagnosis

There are many types of kidney stones depending on the composition of the chemical imbalance that determine them in the first place:

  • Calcium or calcium oxalate stones are the most frequent
  • Struvite stones usually form after urinary tract infections and are high in crystalized magnesium and ammonia
  • Uric acid stones occur at persons who have a highly acidic urine
  • Cystine stone are rare and usually occur if there is a family history of kidney stones of this kind.

In diagnosing kidney stones radiographic tests like ultrasound, intravenous pyelogram and computerized tomography are used to indicate the size and location of the stones. These investigations have proven their utility also in determining the potential risks related to natural elimination of the stone and whether a minimal invasion is required and/or a more aggressive treatment.

Treatment and Prevention

If the case of a very small kidney stone, the doctor might recommend painkillers and wait for it to go through the urinary tract to be naturally eliminated from the body. During this time, the patient needs proper fluid intake to maintain diluted urine. The doctor shall also advise a specific diet to be followed.

There are further more treatment strategies for kidney stones. The doctor might favour one or the other, considering the size and location of the stone and also the treatment that has been followed so far:

Treatment methods for kidney stones:

  • Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) : with the help of a machine, a shock wave is directed to the stone and it will break it to tiny segments that can be naturally eliminated after
  • Surgery: is recommended if the stone is causing an obstruction in the urinary tract
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy, used when the kidney stones are big
  • Ureteroscopy