What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are small and hard mineral deposits that form inside your kidneys. It forms when your urine contains more crystal-forming minerals than the fluid in your urine can dilute. When that occurs, the minerals coalesce to form larger crystals or stones. Kidney stones may also be a symptom of other underlying health problems.
Who is at risk of kidney stones?
Your risk of developing kidney stones increase if you:
- Have a family or personal history of kidney stones
- Do not drink enough water
- Have a diet high in sodium or protein
What are the symptoms of kidney stones?
If you have kidney stones, you may not notice any symptoms until the stones move around in your kidney or pass into your ureter. If that happens, you may experience these symptoms:
- Pain in your side and back that may spread to your lower abdomen
- Painful urination
- Pink, red, or brown urine
- Urinating more frequently than usual
The location of your pain may change as your kidney stones move through your urinary tract.
What tests are done to diagnose kidney stones?
Your urologist may put you through several diagnostic tests to confirm the presence of kidney stones. These diagnostic tests may include:
To show the location of your kidney stones.
To determine the amount of stone-forming or stone-preventing substances.
To check the amount of minerals in your blood.
Analysis of passed stones
To evaluate the makeup of your kidney stones and determine the cause of it.
What treatment options are there for kidney stones?
The course of treatment will depend on the size of the kidney stones, and its location in your urinary tract.
Most kidney stones are small, so you can flush them out from your body by drinking more water. Your urologist may prescribe pain medication to relieve any discomfort.
What treatments are there for larger kidney stones?
Larger kidney stones will require more extensive treatment. The procedures can include:
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)
This procedure uses sound waves to create strong vibrations that break the stones up into smaller pieces, so they can be passed out through your urine. It may cause some mild discomfort, blood in your urine, as well as bruising around your back or abdomen.
This procedure is recommended if ESWL is unsuccessful. Your urologist will make a small incision in your back, and use small telescopes and instruments to remove the kidney stones surgically. You will be under general anaesthesia during the surgery, and will be hospitalised for a few days to recover.
To reach the stones, your urologist will insert a lighted scope through your urethra and bladder with the aid of X-ray and guide wires. Special tools will be used to break the stones into smaller pieces, or to retrieve the stones. Your urologist may insert a small stent in the ureter to reduce swelling and promote healing. The stent will then be removed several weeks later.