Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are one of the most common – and most painful – disorders of the urinary tract. Trust your INTEGRIS urologist to help get you through it.

This too shall pass.

Grains of Sand to Golf Balls

A kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms from crystallization of excreted substances in the urine. It can be as small as a grain of sand and pass all the way out of your body, but it can also be as big as a pearl or even a golf ball. When kidney stones are that large, they’re likely to get stuck in your ureter, bladder or urethra, blocking the flow of urine and cause great pain.

Kidney stones are one of the most common – and most painful disorders – of the urinary tract. The best way to avoid them is to drink more water, but once you develop more than one, you’re likely to develop more.

The Good News

INTEGRIS physicians, urologists and specialists have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating kidney stones, and offer cutting edge technologies and procedures that mean you can often get maximally successful results with the latest in minimally invasive surgeries and treatments.

Understanding Kidney Stones

The following are the most common symptoms for kidney stones. However, you may experience symptoms differently – and these symptoms may resemble other conditions or medical problems, so it’s always best to talk with your doctor. Symptoms include:

  • Extreme, sharp pain in the back or side that will not go away. Changing positions does not help. Pain can come and go.
  • Blood in the urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cloudy or odorous urine
  • Frequent urination
  • A burning feeling when you urinate
  • Fever and chills
  • Prompt medical attention for kidney stones is necessary.

If your doctor thinks you might have kidney stones, exams and tests will be required to reach an accurate diagnosis. Tests include:

  • Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP): A series of X-rays of your kidney, ureters and bladder with the injection of a contrast dye into the vein to detect tumors, abnormalities, kidney stones, or any obstructions, and to assess renal blood flow.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan: Combines special X-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of your body. These cross-sectional images of the area being studied can then be examined on a computer monitor or printed.
  • Urinalysis: Laboratory examination of urine for various cells and chemicals, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, infection or excessive protein.
  • Blood Tests: Laboratory examination of the blood to detect substances that might promote stone formation.
  • Renal Ultrasound: A non-invasive test in which a transducer is passed over the kidney producing sound waves which bounce off of the kidney, transmitting a picture of the organ on a video screen. The test is used to determine the size and shape of the kidney, and to detect a mass, kidney stone, cyst or other obstruction in the kidney.

Some kidney stones pass out of the body on their own. In cases that cause lasting symptoms or other complications, kidney stones may be treated with various techniques. Specific treatment for kidney stones will be determined by your doctor based on your age, overall health, medical history, the extent of the disease and your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies. Of course, your personal opinions and preferences will also be taken into consideration. Treatments may include:

  • Shock Waves or Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL): This treatment uses a machine to send shock waves directly to the kidney stone to break a large stone into smaller stones that will pass through the urinary system. There are two types of shock wave machines: with one machine, the patient sits in a tub of water, with the other, the patient lies on a table.
  • Ureteroscope: A long wire with a camera attached to it is inserted it into your urethra and passed up through your bladder to the ureter where the stone is located. A cage is used to obtain the stone and remove it.
  • Tunnel Surgery (also called Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy): A small cut is made in your back and a narrow tunnel is made through the skin to the stone inside the kidney. The physician can remove the stone through this tunnel.

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