Kidney stones are formed from crystal-like material. These stones form inside the kidneys or other parts of the urinary tract.
There are several types of kidney stones:
The cause of your kidney stone depends on the type of stone that you have. Calcium stones are the most common type.
Kidney stones are more common in Caucasian men under 50 years old.
Other factors that may increase the chances of kidney stones:
For calcium oxalate or phosphorus stones:
Uric acid stones:
In many people, kidney stones do not cause symptoms and pass with urine. Other people may have symptoms, including:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
Images may be taken of your kidneys and urinary system. This can be done with:
Treatment depends on the size and location of the kidney stone. Treatment may include one or more of the following:
For small kidney stones, drinking at least 2-3 quarts of water per day can help the body pass the stone out with urine. You may be given a special cup to catch the stone when it passes. The doctor may want to test the stone to see what type it is. IV fluids may be needed in a hospital if you are vomiting.
Pain medication may help with discomfort until the stone passes. You may also be given medication to help pass the stone.
Surgery may be needed if the stones are:
A stent may be placed temporarily if there is an infection present or too much inflammation to safely remove the stone.
A small tube is passed up through the urinary tract to the ureter. A small camera is passed through the tube so that the doctor can see the stone. The stone can then be removed. General or spinal anesthesia may be needed.
Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is used to treat large stones located in the kidney. A small incision is made in the lower back. A scope is passed through a tube so the kidney stones can be seen. The stones are then broken into smaller pieces and removed.
ESWL sends shock waves into the body. The impact of the shock waves breaks up the larger stones so they can pass in urine.
Once you have formed a kidney stone, you are more likely to form another. To help reduce the chances of another kidney stone:
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Kidney Foundation
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
Kidney stones. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/kidney-stones. Accessed March 8, 2018.
Kidney stones. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/kidney-stones?article=148. Updated March 8, 2018.
Nephrolithiasis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114904/Nephrolithiasis. Updated February 5, 2018. Accessed March 8, 2018.
Urinary calculi. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/urinary-calculi/urinary-calculi. Updated July 2016. Accessed March 8, 2018.
1/4/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114904/Nephrolithiasis: Hollingsworth JM, Rogers MA, Kaufman SR, et al. Medical therapy to facilitate urinary stone passage: A meta-analysis. Lancet. 2006;368(9542):1171-1179.
1/4/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114904/Nephrolithiasis: Mora B, Giorni E, Dobrovits M, et al. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation: an effective treatment for pain caused by renal colic in emergency care. J Urol. 2006;175(5):1737-1741.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.