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Overview

Kidney stones are the aggregation of chemical substances dissolved in urine. When the concentration level of these substances reaches a particular point, they crystallize into a permanent form and form stones.

The most common type of stone contains calcium in combination with either oxalate or phosphate. Kidney stones vary in size; sometimes, these are too small to be felt or noticed in the urinary tract. Otherwise, these can as large as a golf ball.

When the stone obstructs the urine flow, the ureter dilates and stretches causing muscle spasms giving rise to immense gripping pain (renal colic); felt in flank, lower abdomen, groin, or leg of affected side Kidney Stones Types. It is not necessary for all kidney stones to be made up of the same types of crystals.

Sign & Symptoms

  • Sharp pain in the groin region & side areas

  • Signs of blood while passing urine (hematuria)

  • Frequent nausea & vomiting

  • Pus observed in urine

  • Passing less amount of urine

  • Burning & itching sensation when passing urine

  • The frequent feeling of urination

  • Sometimes, the occurrence of fever/chills

Investigation & Diagnosis

Blood Tests

These tests inform about the presence of too much calcium or uric acid in your blood. It helps doctors to check the health of your kidney.


Urine Tests

Doctor may advise you to have two urine collections for two consecutive days to assess the amount of stone forming minerals present in your urine.


Imaging

Imaging tests may include simple abdominal X-rays, high speed, dual energy computerized tomography (CT) and ultrasound to reveal the presence of kidney stones in your urinary tract. One advanced test is intravenous urography where a dye is injected into an arm vein and x-rays or CT images are taken as dye travels through the kidney and bladder.


Treatment Modalities

Management of kidney stone depends upon the size, exact location, consistency of stone and the condition of the patient. It ranges from medicinal therapy to surgery. Stone size is the utmost crucial factor in determining the modality. Surgery is done to prevent the kidney function from deteriorating and prevent the incidence of disease.


Retrograde Intrarenal Surgery (RIRS)

The advent of flexible ureteroscopes has allowed intraureteral and renal lithotripsy regardless of the size and location of stone. Ureterorenoscopy using flexible ureteroscope is called Retrograde Intrarenal Surgery (RIRS). It can be easily used for stones anywhere in the tract. It is especially suited for patients where ESWL cannot be performed (bleeding disorders; obesity) or has failed. With these flexible scopes, virtually any area of the upper collecting system can be visualized by the surgeon.


Its advantages include no incision on the body, short hospital stay & early recovery. The procedure is expensive as the equipment is costly, even doctors need special training to perform it. It is a major leap in endourology in managing urolithiasis and other pathologies in kidney.

This minimally invasive urology procedure is generally used for cases that are otherwise difficult to treat, such as:

  • Failed attempts at treatment
  • Tumors in the kidney
  • Kidney stones too large for
  • Kidney stones among children
  • Treatment by lithotripsy
  • Bleeding disorders in the kidneys
  • Strictures in the kidney
  • Grossly obese patients


Ureterorenoscopic (URS) Lithotripsy with Holmium Laser Treatment

In those instances when the stone is stuck within the bladder or Ureter, doctors use a device called Ureteroscope for its removal. It is a non-invasive method as there is no incision required. It’s a small wire with a snapper integrated, which is inserted within the Urethra and moved within the bladder. A laser fiber is used to transmit the Holmium energy that breaks up the kidney stone and the surgeon removes a few broken pieces through urethra using a small basket.


Smaller pieces pass through urination. Sometimes, doctors insert a tube known as a stent between urethra and kidney to make it easy to pass kidney stones and improve healingIn those instances when the stone is stuck within the bladder or Ureter, doctors use a device called Ureteroscope for its removal. It is a non-invasive method as there is no incision required. It’s a small wire with a snapper integrated, which is inserted within the Urethra and moved within the bladder. A laser fiber is used to transmit the Holmium energy that breaks up the kidney stone and the surgeon removes a few broken pieces through urethra using a small basket. Smaller pieces pass through urination. Sometimes, doctors insert a tube known as a stent between urethra and kidney to make it easy to pass kidney stones and improve healing


Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESW)

Lithotripsy can be understood as the extracorporeal shock waves (electromagnetic), which are the sound waves, mostly used for breaking down the bigger size stones, making these smoothly pass into the bladder. It’s a complex process and often requires anesthesia. The person may feel strain around abdomen region and back. There may be chances of bleeding around the kidney regions as well.


Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL)

This method involves the removal of a stone through a tiny incision in the concerned person’s back. These methods are recommended when:

  • The stone leads to hindrance causing infection or damages within the kidney
  • When the stone is too big to pass smoothly, a person suffers from extreme pain

Frequently asked questions

How can kidney stones be a problem?

Kidney stones, first of all, can cause unbearable pain. It needs to be treated as soon as possible. Delaying treatments may lead to kidney failure or may even be a cause of cancer.

What are the first signs of kidney stones?

Among the most common signs of having kidney stones include excruciating pain in the groin and its sides, passing less amount of urine than usual, burning sensation while passing urine, nausea, vomiting, the presence of pus and blood in the urine.

What is the main cause of kidney stones?

Among the most common causes is less fluid intake. Having acidic urine, certain diseases, heredity, and eating certain foods in excess can also cause stones. However, the main cause of accumulation of those components that form stone is drinking less amount of water on a daily basis.

Are Kidney Stones serious?

Yes, kidney stones are serious as if untreated; they can lead to further problems of urinary tract infections and kidney damage. The growth of bacteria can lead to blockage and infection. Also, the presence of kidney stones for long can build up pressure on the kidneys and hamper their functioning.

Can I die from a kidney stone?

Kidney stones, on rare occasions, can lead to death; especially if their diagnosis is delayed and then not getting treatment on time, there is a risk of kidney infection. It can lead to a condition called sepsis that is life- threatening and required rapid treatment.

What is the prevention of kidney stones?

First of all, one should drink 10-12 glasses of water daily. Avoiding excess salt, animal protein, fried foods, alcohol, etc. can prevent the formation of kidney stones.

What is the risk factor of kidney stones?

Heredity, gender, certain types of diseases, diet, and lifestyle, to a certain extent are counted among risk factors.

Why Kidney Stones are Considered Dangerous?

Kidney stones, especially large stones, if remain untreated for a long time can lead to permanent damage to the kidney and may result in kidney loss.

What is the diet of kidney patients?

To keep the formation of kidney stones in check, it is important to eat foods that calcium-rich drink citrus juices, and most important drink lots of water. Avoid excess salts, added sugars, oxalates rich foods, and excess animal protein is highly recommended for kidney stone patients.

When to see a doctor for kidney stones?

If you are observing symptoms of kidney stones, and are not able to pass the stone through urine, you should visit the doctor. If you have the following symptoms, immediately see a doctor.

  • Severe pain
  • Blood in urine
  • A strong urge to urinate
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • A burning sensation while urinating
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Fever/Chills

How do doctors remove my kidney stone at hospitals?

  • The first step is to diagnosis that involves a series of blood tests, Urinalysis, KFT, ultrasound, abdominal X-ray etc.
  • After diagnosing the disease, analyzing the stage of the disease and risk factors associated, the specialists here
  • advise the right treatment.
  • If the problem is caught early and doctors do not find it alarming, they can prescribe ways, so the stone passes
  • down easily, naturally. Another effective method that does not involve invasive surgery is performing laser
  • treatment of the kidney stone.
  • If the problem is more critical, doctors can advise different modes of treatment depending upon the condition
  • of the patient and stone.

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