A kidney stone is a hard mass developed from crystals that have separated from urine. If the crystals remain tiny enough, they will pass out of the body in the urine without being noticed. When stones cause problems, you should consult your primary care provider. Depending on your situation, your provider may recommend that you try flushing the stones.
Most kidney stones can pass through the urinary system with plenty of water—2 to 3 quarts a day. You may decide to stay at home during this process, drinking fluids and taking pain medication as needed. You may be asked to save the passed stone for testing.
When to see a urologist
You may be given a referral to a Riverside urologist, if your kidney stone:
- Does not pass after a reasonable period of time and causes constant pain.
- Is too large to pass on its own or is caught.
- Blocks the flow of urine.
- Causes an ongoing urinary tract infection.
- Damages kidney tissue or causes constant bleeding.
- Has grown larger.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy
The most frequently used procedure for the treatment of kidney stones, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). This procedure uses shock waves created outside the body which travel through the skin and body tissues until they hit the denser stones. The stones break down into small particles and are easily passed through the urinary tract in the urine.
ESWL may be done on an outpatient basis. Recovery time is relatively short, and most people can resume normal activities in a few days.
Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is sometimes recommended to remove a stone. This treatment is often used when the stone is quite large or in a location that does not allow effective use of ESWL
Ureteroscopy may be needed to treat mid- and lower-ureter stones.
Parathyroid surgery is used for some people with calcium stones, which is caused by hyperparathyroidism. Treatment in these cases is usually surgery to remove the parathyroid glands, which are located in the neck. Removing the glands cures the patient's problem with hyperparathyroidism and kidney stones.
Depending on the type of stone you have, your doctor may prescribe medications to prevent additional stones.
- A doctor may prescribe medicines to control the amount of acid or alkali in the urine, key factors in crystal formation of calcium and uric acid stones.
- If cystine stones cannot be controlled by drinking more fluids, a doctor may prescribe medicines to help reduce the amount of cystine in the urine.
- For stones caused by bacteria your doctor will want to test your urine regularly to ensure that no bacteria are present. In addition, he or she may prescribe medication for long term use to prevent the infection that leads to stones.