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RENAL STONES

Kidney stones (also called renal calculi, nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis) are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys. Diet, excess body weight, some medical conditions, and certain supplements and medications are among the many causes of kidney stones.

 

What causes renal stones?

Possible causes include drinking too little water, exercise (too much or too little), obesity, weight loss surgery, or eating food with too much salt or sugar. Infections and family history might be important in some people. Eating too much fructose correlates with increasing risk of developing a kidney stone.

 Symptoms of kidney stones

  • sharp pains in your back, side, lower abdomen, or groin.

  • pink, red, or brown blood in your urine, also called hematuria.

  • a constant need to urinate.

  • pain while urinating.

  • inability to urinate or can only urinate a small amount.

  • cloudy or bad-smelling urine.

TREATMENT FOR KIDNEY STONES

Health care professionals usually treat kidney stones based on their size, location, and what type they are.

Small kidney stones may pass through your urinary tract without treatment.

If you’re able to pass a kidney stone, a health care professional may ask you to catch the kidney stone in a special container. A health care professional will send the kidney stone to a lab to find out what type it is.

A health care professional may advise you to drink plenty of liquids if you are able to help move a kidney stone along. The health care professional also may prescribe pain medicine.

Larger kidney stones or kidney stones that block your urinary tract or cause great pain may need urgent treatment. If you are vomiting and dehydrated, you may need to go to the hospital and get fluids through an IV.

KIDNEY STONE REMOVAL

A urologist can remove the kidney stone or break it into small pieces with the following treatments:

Shock wave lithotripsy:

The doctor can use shock wave lithotripsy to blast the kidney stone into small pieces.

The smaller pieces of the kidney stone then pass through your urinary tract. A doctor can give you anesthesia during this outpatient procedure.

Laser treatment:

During cystoscopy, the doctor uses a cystoscope to look inside the urethra and bladder to find a stone in your urethra or kidney. During ureteroscopy, the doctor uses a ureteroscope, which is longer and thinner than a cystoscope, to see detailed images of the lining of the ureters and kidneys.

The doctor inserts the cystoscope or ureteroscope through the urethra to see the rest of the urinary tract. Once the stone is found, it can be removed or laser it into smaller pieces.

The doctor performs these procedures in the hospital with anesthesia.  You can typically go home the same day.

 

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy:

The doctor uses a thin viewing tool, called a nephoscope, to locate and remove the kidney stone. The doctor inserts the tool directly into your kidney through a small cut made in your back.

For larger kidney stones, the doctor also may use a laser to break the kidney stones into smaller pieces.

After these procedures, sometimes the urologist may leave a thin flexible tube, called a ureteral stent, in your urinary tract to help urine flow or a stone to pass. Once the kidney stone is removed, your doctor sends the kidney stone or its pieces to a lab to find out what type it is. 

The health care professional also may ask you to collect your urine for 24 hours after the kidney stone has passed or been removed. The health care professional can then measure how much urine you produce in a day, along with mineral levels in your urine. You are more likely to form stones if you don’t make enough urine each day or have a problem with high mineral levels.

PREVENTION OF KIDNEY STONES

To help prevent future kidney stones, you also need to know what caused your previous kidney stones. Once you know what type of kidney stone you had, a health care professional can help you to make changes in your diet and liquid intake to prevent further stone episodes.

Drinking liquids:

In most cases, drinking enough liquids each day is the best way to help prevent most types of kidney stones. Drinking enough liquids keeps your urine diluted and helps flush away minerals that might form stones.

Though water is best, other liquids such as citrus drinks may also help prevent kidney stones.

Some studies show that citrus drinks, such as lemonade and orange juice, protect against kidney stones because they contain citrate, which stops crystals from turning into stones.

Unless you have kidney failure, you should drink six to eight glasses a day. If you previously had cystine stones, you may need to drink even more. 

The amount of liquid you need to drink depends on the weather and your activity level. If you live, work, or exercise in hot weather, you may need more liquid to replace the fluid you lose through sweat.

Medicines:

If you have had a kidney stone, a health care professional also may prescribe medicines to prevent future kidney stones. Depending on the type of kidney stone you had and what type of medicine the health care professional prescribes, you may have to take the medicine for a few weeks, several months, or longer.

For example, if you had infective  stones, you may have to take an oral antibiotic for 1 to 6 weeks, or possibly longer.

If you had another type of stone, you may have to take a potassium citrate tablet 1 to 3 times daily. You may have to take potassium citrate for months or even longer until a health care professional says you are no longer at risk for kidney stones.

Struggling with kidney stones? Contact Waterfall Urology to discuss effective treatment options and take the first step towards relief.

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