Kidney stones, also known as renal calculi, result from a buildup of minerals and salts in your urine. These minerals and salts combine to form crystals, which can be extraordinarily painful to try to pass in your urine. You are more likely to develop kidney stones when there isn’t enough liquid flushing wastes out of your body. This can occur when you don’t drink enough water.
Types of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones generally fall into four categories:
- Calcium oxalate stones: These stones are most common type of kidney stone.
- Cystine stones: Cystine stones typically form when a substance called “cystine” leaks into the urine. This type of kidney stone is more likely to run in families.
- Struvite stones: In most cases, struvite stones result from infections in the upper urinary tract.
- Uric acid stones: Purines are chemicals found in organ meats and shellfish. High purine concentrations may cause kidney stones to form. In many cases, this type of kidney stone runs in families.
Doctors easily identify kidney stones using X-rays or computerized tomography (CT) scans. If your doctor diagnoses a kidney stone, Englewood Health Physician Network offers several treatments to manage your symptoms and break up or remove stones from your urinary tract.
Why Choose Englewood Health Physician Network for Kidney Stone Care?
Englewood Health Physician Network urology specialists use their combined expertise to help diagnose and treat all types of renal calculi. When you come to Englewood Health Physician Network for treatment, you benefit from:
- A collaborative approach to your care involving doctors from multiple specialties
- Convenient access to urology services at multiple Englewood Health Physician Network locations
- Innovative treatments, such as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (using shock waves to break up kidney stones), to help you avoid invasive surgery
- Surgical expertise using the latest minimally invasive techniques
Kidney Stone Risk Factors
Anyone can develop kidney stones. Your likelihood of developing a kidney stone may increase due to several factors, including:
- Certain diets, such as a high protein or high salt diets
- Digestive diseases, such as Crohn’s disease
- Family history of kidney stones
- History of gastrointestinal surgery
- Being overweight or obese
- Some medications, including calcium and vitamin C supplements
Kidney Stone Symptoms
Kidney stone symptoms often relate to the size and location of the stone. You may not have any noticeable symptoms if a kidney stone is small or is not causing any blockage of urine flow. The larger renal calculi become, the more likely you will experience symptoms especially during passage of the stone. Your symptoms may include:
- Blood in your urine
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- Persistent need to urinate
- Severe pain in your back or side below your ribs
- Urinating small amounts
In some cases, pain associated with kidney stones comes and goes over time. Pain may radiate to your groin or lower abdomen, and it may be painful to urinate.
Englewood Health Physician Network’s Kidney Stone Treatment Team
Kidney stones may cause severe symptoms that interfere with your quality of life. Your urologists work quickly to diagnose and begin treatment, so you can feel better, faster.
Diagnosing a Kidney Stone
Doctors use a variety of tests to diagnose kidney stones. Before any test, your doctor discusses your symptoms and personal and family history. Any personal or family history of renal calculi may be the first clue to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.
If your doctor suspects kidney stones, he or she may recommend further testing, including:
- Abdominal X-rays: In some cases, a simple abdominal X-ray can detect kidney stones.
- Blood tests: Certain blood tests help show whether you have higher than normal concentrations of certain minerals in your blood as well as checking for kidney function.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scans: A CT scan is a fast, accurate method for detecting kidney stones. CT scans combine multiple X-rays to create detailed pictures of internal structures.
- Renal Ultrasound: During this test, ultrasound may detect some kidney stones without any radiation exposure
- 24 hour metabolic urine testing
Your doctor may also recommend tests to determine the composition of any kidney stones in your body. After passing a kidney stone or having it removed, it may be sent to a laboratory for further analysis. This type of examination helps reveal the chemical make-up of any kidney stones. Using this information, your doctor creates a treatment plan to help prevent more stones from forming. Your doctor may also recommend a 24hr urine collection to determine risk for recurrent stone formation.
Kidney Stone Treatment
Englewood Health Physician Network urology specialists treat even the largest kidney stones. We offer a variety of kidney stone treatments to suit your needs. If kidney stones are small, your doctor may recommend:
- Drinking more water: Water helps flush out your urinary tract. Drinking two to three quarts of water every day may help get kidney stones out of your body.
- Medications: Some medications, including alpha blockers, may help you pass kidney stones by relaxing the muscles in your ureter. The ureter is a small tube connecting each of your kidneys to your bladder.
- Pain management: If your pain is mild, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain-relieving medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. For some people, kidney stone pain may be severe. In this case, your doctor may suggest prescription pain medications.
For larger kidney stones, treatment is usually more precise, especially if the stones cause pain. Your treatment options may include:
- Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL): Using sound waves, doctors break up kidney stones into small pieces that are easily passed out of the body with your urine.
- Ureteroscopy: Your doctor passes a thin, flexible, lighted scope through your urethra and bladder to your ureters, which are thin tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder. Using specialized tools attached to the scope, the doctor removes any kidney stones blocking your ureter. In some cases, doctors also place a stent inside a ureter to hold it open, relieve swelling, and promote healing.
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy: In some cases, minimally invasive surgery is necessary to remove large kidney stones. During this procedure, your doctor makes a tiny incision in your back to access any stones in your kidney. Then, doctors remove kidney stones through this small incision using a camera.
- Complex kidney stone treatment: We perform percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL), an advanced procedure for treating large, complex, or persistent stones.
- Robotic surgery: Although this is done very rarely, some kidney stones will require surgical removal