Deposition of salts and minerals inside kidneys results in kidney stones. Other terms for kidney stones are renal calculi, urolithiasis, and nephrolithiasis. Kidney stone formation may be faster with a higher concentration of urine. The higher urine concentration causes crystallisation of salts and minerals and subsequent sticking together of these crystals to form kidney stones. Kidney stones are treatable with timely diagnosis and treatment.
Types of Kidney Stones
Calcium stones- These are the commonest among all types of kidney stones. Uric acid stone- Several conditions can lead to acidic urine. Uric acid stone formation occurs because uric acid crystals are not soluble in acidic urine. Struvite stones- Infection stone is another name for struvite stones. Struvite stones comprise ammonia, a waste product, and magnesium which is a mineral. Cystine stones- The occurrence of cystine stones is rare. It relates to the high concentration of cystine in the urine. The formation of these stones begins from early childhood. It is a hereditary and metabolic condition.
Causes of Kidney Stones
Several causes can lead to the formation of kidney stones: Infections- Frequent infections of the urinary tract Low urine output- Consistently low urine volume can result in concentrated and darker urine that encourages the formation of kidney stones. Diet- Intake of foods that contain excess amount of calcium oxalate and uric acid
Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Stones
Smaller kidney stones can pass easily through urine, causing no symptoms. The following signs and symptoms may be present if the stones get lodged in ureters: Severe and intense pain below the ribs and in the back Pink or red-colored urine The pain may be fluctuating in severity More frequent, painful, and burning urination Fever with chills suggesting an infection
Risk Factors of Kidney Stones
Drinking less water Family history Diets with high protein and sodium content Diseases of the digestive tract Medical conditions like cystinuria or hyperparathyroidism Medication and nutritional supplements Higher BMI or obesity History of specific metabolic diseases Recurrent infections of the urinary tract Lack of exercise or sedentary lifestyle
Diagnosis and Tests for detecting Kidney Stones
Routine health exams or X-ray investigations may underline the presence of kidney stones that do not cause any symptoms (silent kidney stones). Doctor may suspect a kidney stone if you are experiencing intense pain, discoloration of urine, and other symptoms. Following are some diagnostic tests that help detect the presence of kidney stones in addition to a physical examination:
To examine the presence of calcium or uric acid in the blood
The test will help detect blood in urine along with bacteria and the presence of minerals that are responsible for kidney stone formation
Abdominal X-ray KUB and USG Abdomen are a standard imaging test. Advanced imaging techniques like CT scan help detect smaller stones that may not show on X-ray images and Ultrasound. Urologists are the medical specialists who diagnose and treat kidney stones.
Kidney Stone Treatment and Care
Your doctor chooses an appropriate treatment option by considering the size of the stone, severity of symptoms, and presence of infections.
Waiting for the natural passage of the Kidney Stone
Smaller stones that cause no infection and severe symptoms can pass through urine depending upon patient condition.Patient should come for regular follow up while on conservative treatment as even small stone may require active intervention sometimes.
Medical Therapy of Kidney Stones
Besides antibiotics to treat infections that may occur because of kidney stones, Doctors may recommend medication therapy to improve the chances of stone removal. Some medicines from the alpha-blocker category relax the ureters and enable the stone to pass out spontaneously in some cases.
(1) Shock wave lithotripsy
Removal of stones may require breaking the stones into smaller pieces that can easily pass in the urine. The Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) disintegrates the large stones.
(2)Surgical removal of stones
Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL)- Surgical removal of significantly large stone is possible by using Percutaneous. Retrograde Intrarenal surgery (RIRS) - Retrograde Intrarenal surgery is other minimally invasive technique for kidney stone. It is done through natural urine passing with the help of flexible instruments ans laser. Surgical removal of significantly large stones is possible by using Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy. It involves passing the nephroscope through a small incision in the back.
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