Kidney Stones

Kidney stone disease has been on the rise over the last two decades, likely due to diet and lifestyle changes. Over the last decade, there has been an 85% increase in the number of emergency room visits for kidney stones.

Kidney Stones Conditions Banner

Kidney stones can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Sharp, stabbing pain on one side of the back, under the ribs. The pain may occur every few minutes and last up to an hour.
  • Pain in the lower stomach, groin or genital area
  • Burning pain when you urinate
  • Blood in your urine
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abnormal color or smell to your urine
  • Frequent urge to urinate

Sometimes, kidney stones produce no pain or other symptoms and are instead found when you’re having an xray, ultrasound or CT scan for another medical issue. Whatever the symptoms, if they are not treated, kidney stones can cause permanent damage to the kidneys.

What Causes Kidney Stones?

There are different types of kidney stones and varied reasons why they form. Most are created by high levels of minerals and salts in the urine that collect and form stones.

Causes include:

  • Age
  • Medication
  • A diet that is high in sodium or animal protein
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Previous surgeries like gastric bypass
  • Medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and gout
  • Obesity or metabolic syndrome
  • Use of calcium supplements
  • Excessive use of antacids
  • Family and personal history of kidney stones

Low fluid intake, especially in warmer weather, which can lead to dehydration. 

Diagnosing Kidney Stones

To diagnose a kidney stone, we use the following:

  • Physical exam and your health history
  • Urine tests
  • Blood tests
  • Diagnostic imaging such as low-dose CT scans and ultrasound

Treatment Options

Treatment for kidney stones depends on their location, size and how hard they are. Not all stones need to be treated. Many will pass on their own, or we can give medication to help your body pass the stone or dissolve it.

Some stones, however, are too large or get trapped in the ureter, the tube connecting the kidney and bladder. These must be treated quickly to prevent kidney damage, and may require a procedure to remove or break up the stone.

At the Tallwood Urology & Kidney Institute Kidney Stone Center, treatment for kidney stones could include:

  • Laser fragmentation to break up the stones
  • Lithotripsy, which uses shockwave therapy to break up the stones. The tiny pieces of stone can then be passed in your urine, avoiding surgery. The outpatient procedure takes an hour or less, and you can return to normal activities within a few days.
  • Ureteroscopy, a procedure in which the urologist inserts a small, flexible tube through the urethra into the bladder and ureter and grabbing the stone. Larger stones can be broken up with a laser attachment and then removed. A stent is left in temporarily to make sure the kidney is draining properly.
  • Percutaneous and laparoscopic stone removal, procedures by which the urologist inserts a catheter through your side and into the kidney to drain urine and any stones. This takes about 30 minutes and is an outpatient procedure.

Once you have had kidney stones, you are at increased risk of developing more. Our team of specialists can work with you to prevent that from happening with changes to your diet and medication.

Specializing in Large Kidney Stones

We are experts in treating larger, more complicated kidney stones that could not be treated effectively elsewhere. By partnering closely with interventional radiologists, we are able to use percutaneous nephrostomy to precisely place the tube to remove the entire stone.

Find Out More

You can find more information about kidney stones and kidney disease on any of these websites.

Kidney Stone Center at The Tallwood Institute

The Tallwood Institute’s Kidney Stone Center draws on the expertise of urologists, nephrologists, dietitians and interventional radiologists to address your kidney stones and help you feel better.

Visit the Kidney Stone Center

Kidney Stone Center Team

Meet our World-Class, Interdisciplinary Team of Specialists and Nurse Navigators to help you and your family on your journey.

Meet Our Kidney Stone Team