Kidney stones, also known as renal calculi, are small stones that form in the kidneys from minerals and salts. They can be very small or as large as a golf ball and can affect the kidneys, ureters, or bladder (urinary tract). Kidney stones may not cause any issues unless they move around in the kidneys or the ureter. Symptoms can include severe pain in side and lower back, pain in urination, different colored and foul-smelling urine, vomiting, constant urination, and feeling sick (nausea).
Kidney stones have many different causes. They typically form because there is too much of a stone forming substance for the fluid in the urine to dilute. These substances, which are usually calcium, oxalate, or uric acid, can then crystalize to form the stones. Certain conditions, such as gout, cystinuria, urinary tract infections and rare genetic conditions, can also increase the risk for certain types of kidney stones. Finding out what the kidney stone is made from can help determine the cause of the stone and may also help with treatment. If you have symptoms of a kidney stone, there are a number of tests your doctor may use to confirm the diagnosis. These can include blood and urine tests to look for high levels of stone forming substances and imaging (X-rays and CT) to find the location of the stones. The treatment used depends on the size and location of the kidney stone. Your doctor may recommend just drinking water and managing the pain with medication until the stones are passed in the urine. If the stone is large, your doctor may use sounds wave to break up the stone as well as surgery or a scope to remove the stones. If you or your child has been diagnosed with kidney stones, talk with a specialist to find out the reason for kidney stones and to determine the treatment plan that is best for you.