Skip to content

KIDNEY STONES

Learn about the symptoms, causes and treatment options for kidney stones here at Advanced Urology Institute.

KIDNEY STONES

When there is inadequate liquid to dilute salts and waste chemicals found in urine, hard masses called kidney stones may form in the kidneys. The stones can form in one or both kidneys and may vary in size, ranging from a tiny sugar crystal to a large golf ball. While kidney stones are hard to notice, a stone can be large enough to cause blockage or severe pain, particularly when it enters into one of the ureters. Kidney stones are a common condition in the United States, affecting up to 9 percent of the population and sending more than 500,000 people to emergency rooms every year.

Kidney stones are often diagnosed once they have caused obvious symptoms, usually severe pain. The pain is typically so severe that it can send patients to emergency rooms where a range of tests may be conducted to uncover the stones. Apart from the symptoms, kidney stones are diagnosed using tests such as X-rays, CT scan, urinalysis and ultrasound. Blood tests to determine the levels of various minerals involved in stone formation also can unearth kidney stones.

Kidney stones occur when there is inadequate liquid to dilute the waste chemicals found in urine, such as oxalate, calcium and phosphorous. When not properly diluted, the waste chemicals get more concentrated and form crystals. The most frequent type of stones is calcium oxalate crystals. While there are many factors that can trigger the formation of kidney stones, including what you drink and eat and chronic medical conditions, the most common cause is dehydration. For instance, people living in hot climates are more likely to lose a lot of water in sweat, resulting in limited amounts of fluid available to dilute urine. The frequently high concentration of urine in such people can trigger kidney stones.

While very small kidney stones may just pass through the urinary tract without causing symptoms, a majority of people who seek medical care for the condition do so because of severe pain on the flank, which may extend to the belly, groin or back. The movement of kidney stones through the urinary tract also may cause extreme pain that does not go away, painful urination, blood in urine, chills, fever, nausea and vomiting. When experiencing such symptoms, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible for prompt medical attention.

For small stones, no treatment is necessary. You may only need to take pain medications and wait for the stones to pass out. A stone that is 5mm (1/5 inch) or smaller has a 90 percent chance of passing without intervention while one between 5-10mm has a 50 percent chance of passing. To increase the chance of a stone passing on its own, it is important to drink a lot of fluid every day, such as 8-10 glasses of water daily. A stone that is larger than 10mm may not pass on its own and may require either a non-invasive or invasive treatment to remove it.

Prescription medications may be used to facilitate the passage of some stones that do not pass on their own. For example, alpha-blockers can be used to relax the walls of the ureters and widen the passages to allow the stones to move out easily. Certain medications also may be used to stop the formation of new stones.

Apart from using drugs, the surgeon can pass a special instrument called the ureteroscope through the urinary tract to reach the stone’s location. The surgeon then applies laser energy to break the stone into smaller fragments and remove them through the tube. The procedure is called ureteroscopy and it does not require incisions.

Another commonly used treatment for kidney stones is extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy (ESWL). This treatment is ideal for very large stones or for stones that have blocked the urinary tract. During shock wave lithotripsy, the surgeon uses a machine that generates strong vibrations (called shock waves) to break large stones into smaller pieces that can pass out through the urinary tract. However, for kidney stones that are extremely large, the surgeon may need to conduct a surgical operation to remove them.

A lot of technology is currently available to help diagnose, treat and manage kidney stones. The technologies are safe and effective, relieving the symptoms of kidney stones without causing problems to the patients. So if you are experiencing symptoms of kidney stones, visit your doctor as soon as possible to benefit from these latest technologies and get the necessary relief. You do not have to live with a problem whose solution exists. For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of kidney stones, visit Advanced Urology Institute.

PHYSICIANS WHO SPECIALIZE IN
KIDNEY STONES

Raj Ayyathurai, MD
Specialties:
  • BPH
  • Female Urinary Incontinence
  • Kidney Stone Prevention
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Robotics Trained Surgeon
  • Kidney Stone Management
  • Yaser S. Bassel, MD
    Specialties:
  • Incontinence
  • Prostate Enlargement
  • Kidney Stone Disease
  • Urologic Cancer
  • daVinci Robotic Surgery
  • Laparoscopic Surgery
  • Mark W. Dersch, MD
    Specialties:
  • BPH
  • Elevated PSA
  • Overactive Bladder
  • Kidney Stones
  • Scrotal and Testicular Masses
  • Bladder Tumors
  • Cancer
  • Shock Wave Lithotripsy
  • David DiPiazza, MD
    Specialties:
  • Board Certified in Urology
  • Board Certified in UroGynecology
  • Robot Surgery Expert
  • Cancer Surgery
  • Pelvic Floor Reconstruction for Vaginal Prolapse
  • Sean P. Heron, MD
    Specialties:
  • Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy
  • Voiding Dysfunction
  • Elevated PSA
  • Vasectomies
  • Kidney Stones
  • Enlarged Prostate
  • Edward D. King, MD, FACS
    Specialties:
  • BPH
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Robotic Prostate Surgery
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Kidney Stones
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Laparoscopic Kidney Surgery
  • Rishi Modh, MD, MBA
    Specialties:
  • Enlarged Prostate
  • Men's Sexual Health
  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Kidney Stones
  • Vasectomy
  • Robotic Surgery
  • Pelvic Floor Reconstruction
  • Urolift/Rezum/Aquablation
  • Scott Sellinger, MD, FACS
    Specialties:
  • Advanced Prostate Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Enlarged Prostate
  • Kidney Stones
  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Overactive Bladder
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Matthew Sorensen, MD
    Specialties:
  • Vasectomy
  • Men's Sexual Health
  • Kidney Stones
  • Overactive Bladder
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Renal, Bladder and Prostate Cancer
  • Incontinence
  • Medical and surgical treatment of enlarged prostate
  • Matthew Truesdale, MD, FACS
    Specialties:
  • BPH
  • Elevated PSA
  • Kidney Stones
  • Robotic Prostate Cancer Surgery
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Nephrectomy
  • Enlarged Prostate
  • Paulas M. Vyas, MD
    Specialties:
  • Prostate
  • Kidney Cancer
  • BPH
  • Kidney Stones
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Overactive Bladder
  • Incontinence
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Jillian Iten, PA
    Specialties:
  • Prostate Enlargement
  • Incontinence
  • Kidney Stone Disease
  • Testosterone Therapy
  • Women's Health
  • Men's Health
  • Samantha L. Triece, MSN, APRN, FNP
    Specialties:
  • Men's Health
  • Women's Health
  • Bladder Problems
  • Kidney Problems
  • General Urology
  • Lisa Cousins, NP
    Specialties:
  • Men's Health
  • Women's Health
  • Bladder Problems
  • Kidney Problems
  • General Urology
  • STAY IN THE KNOW

    ABOUT KIDNEY STONES

    Christopher Sherman, MD: A Comprehensive Overview of Kidney Stones and Treatment Options

    How Do Kidney Stones Form and How Can They Be Treated?

    Chelsie Ferrell, PA: The Pain and Risks of Kidney Stones

    Experience Exceptional Urological Care at Advanced Urology Institute's Leesburg Office

    Experience Exceptional Urological Care at Advanced Urology Institute’s Leesburg Office

    Can kidney stones go away on their own?