Kidney Stones: Types, symptoms and treatment
What are Kidney Stones
Kidney stones, or renal calculi, are solid masses made of crystals. Kidney stones originate in your kidneys, but can be found at any point in your urinary tract. The urinary tract includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
Types of Kidney Stones
- Calcium stones.Calcium stones are the most common. They can be made of calcium oxalate (most common), phosphate, or maleate. Vitamin C and spinach contain oxalate. Calcium-based kidney stones are most commonly seen in young men between the ages of 20 and 30.
- Struvite stones. Struvite stones form in response to an infection, such as a urinary tract infection. These stones can grow quickly and become quite large, sometimes with few symptoms or little warning.
- Uric acid stones. Uric acid stones can form in people who don’t drink enough fluids or who lose too much fluid, those who eat a high-protein diet, and those who have gout. Certain genetic factors also may increase your risk of uric acid stones.
- Cystine stones. These stones form in people with a hereditary disorder that causes the kidneys to excrete too much of certain amino acids (cystinuria). Cystine stones are rare.
- Other stones. Other, rarer types of kidney stones can occur.
Symptons of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are known to cause severe pain. The severe pain is called renal colic. Pain may be located on one side of your back or abdomen. In men, pain may radiate to the groin area. The pain of renal colic comes and goes, but is quite intense. People with renal colic tend to be restless. Other symptoms that can be present are:
- blood in the urine
- discolored or foul-smelling urine
Treatmentof Kidney Stones
Urine can be strained and stones can be collected for evaluation. Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day increases urine flow. People who are dehydrated or have severe nausea and vomiting may need intravenous fluids/
Pain relief may require narcotic medications. The presence of infection requires treatment with antibiotics.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy uses sound waves to break up large stones so they can more easily pass down the ureters into your bladder. This procedure can be uncomfortable and may require light anesthesia. It can cause bruising on the abdomen and back and bleeding around the kidney and nearby organs.
Tunnel Surgery (Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy)
Stones are removed through a small incision in your back and may be needed when:
- the stone causes obstruction and infection or is damaging the kidneys
- the stone has grown too large to pass
- pain cannot be controlled
When a stone is stuck in the ureter or bladder, your doctor may use an instrument called a ureteroscope to remove it. A small wire with a camera attached is inserted into the urethra and passed into the bladder. A small cage is used to snag the stone and remove it. The stone is then sent to the laboratory for analysis.