Kidney Stones

Introduction
It is estimated that approximately 12% of individuals will have a kidney stone at some point in their lives. Kidney stones are formed in the kidneys when chemicals crystallize in the urine. These stones are usually very small, but depending on where it a stone is located and if it obstructs or prevents urine from draining the issue can be aggravated.

Symptoms

  • Intense and sudden pain located in the side or mid-back
  • Cannot find comfortable position, often writhes in pain
  • Sweating, nausea, vomiting

 

Diagnosis
Many conditions are similar to the symptoms of kidney stones, so the doctor may need to order tests to confirm that kidney stones are present. Computerized tomography (CT) is the most commonly used test. CT scans can detect kidney stones very well as well as their location, size, and what the stones are causing.

Ultrasound is another way of finding kidney stones and avoids the radiation risk of CT scan. X-rays can also be used to track the movement of already-diagnosed kidney stones through the bladder.

Treatment
The best treatment for kidney stones is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Hydrating regularly and consistently keeps the urine dilute and prevents kidney stones from forming.

If you do develop kidney stones, most stones will pass on their own and most treatment is dedicated to alleviating symptoms. Treatment can usually be done from home, with the patient needing to drink lots of fluids and take Ibuprofen.

Some stones may require surgical treatment if they are not able to be passed.

Prognosis
Kidney stones are not life threatening, but extreme pain is attributed with kidney stones in most people. Once a patient has passed a stone, it is very likely another stone will be passed later in life. If stones are recurring over and over, patients may be given medication in case symptoms occur.

Resources
American Urological Association Foundation, Inc.