Kidney and Ureteral Stones

Kidney and Ureteral Stones

One in eleven people in the United States will get kidney stones in their lifetime. In the southern part of the United States stones are even more prevalent. Kidney stones that are not obstructing the urinary tract can produce little to no symptoms but can still damage the kidney and impair its function.

Stones will obstruct the kidney when they try (oftentimes unsuccessfully) to pass down the ureter (the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder). This obstruction can cause significant problems.

Common symptoms of ureteral stones are:

1) Pain in the flank often radiating to the lower abdomen.

Unlike muscular pain most often, different positions do NOT effect the severity of the pain. The pain can come and go also referred to as renal colic.

2) Fever

Since stone can affect the urine flow bacteria can build up behind the stone and lead to infection. If not treated that can lead to serious problems. Prompt medical attention is recommended.

3) Blood in the urine.

As the stone passes blood in the urine may be seen.

4) Frequent and urgent urination.

As the stones gets close to the bladder oftentimes the patient will develop more urinary symptoms such as the urgent need to void and frequent voids.

5) Nausea and vomiting.

How are stones treated?

Fortunately many stones can pass on their own with or without medications to help. However, many stones do not pass and need to be treated.

The far majority of stones that require treatment are treated with minimally invasive techniques. This includes:

1) Medical Expulsive Therapy

Sometimes medications can be used to aid the passage of certain stones.

2) Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy

This is a technique where the patient is placed under anesthesia and a pillow of water is placed under their back in line with their kidney. The stones is imaged with xrays and/or ultrasound and a shockwave is produced which is focused on the stone and causes the stone to break.

3) Ureteroscopy with Laser Lithotripsy

Many stones that are trapped in the ureter can be treated by ureteroscopy. This is a procedure where the patient undergoes anesthesia and the urologist places a scope into the bladder and into the ureter. The stone can be seen and a laser is used to pulverize the stone.

4) Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy

When stones are in the kidney and are large or in a difficult position to treat with the above techniques, the urologist may employ a percutaneous approach. The radiologist places a tube into the kidney. The urologist then uses this tube and makes the entrance bigger to allow a scope to be placed under anesthesia directly into the kidney. Ultrasonic and laser therapy are then uses to break up and remove the stone particles.

Unfortunately stones can plague many people but fortunately the Suncoast Urology physicians can use state of the art techniques to get you back on your feet quickly.