Call Us: (954) 714-8200
Select Page

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are one of the most common urological conditions affecting millions worldwide. They are small, hard deposits of mineral and acid salts that form in the kidneys and can cause severe pain when they pass through the urinary tract. 

A variety of factors, including dehydration, genetics, diet, and certain medical conditions, can cause kidney stones. While most kidney stones can be passed naturally with time and treatment, some may require surgical intervention. Understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatment options available for kidney stones is essential to prevent further complications.

What is a Kidney

The kidney is an organ in the human body that is essential in filtering blood and removing waste products, excess water, and other impurities from the body. These waste products are then eliminated from the body through urine. The kidneys also help regulate blood pressure and balance fluids, electrolytes, and hormones in the body. The kidney is made up of a complex network of tiny blood vessels and tubules that work together to filter out waste and maintain the balance of the body’s internal environment.

Each kidney is located on either side of the spine in the lower back, protected by the ribs. The outer layer of the kidney is called the cortex, while the inner layer is called the medulla. The kidney receives blood from the renal artery, which branches off from the aorta, and returns blood to the body through the renal vein.

The kidneys play a vital role in maintaining the overall health and well-being of the body. Any kidney damage or dysfunction can lead to a range of health issues, including fluid and electrolyte imbalances, hypertension, and kidney disease. Therefore, it is essential to maintain healthy kidney function, such as staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

What is Stone Disease

Stone disease, also known as urolithiasis or nephrolithiasis, is a condition where stones, also known as calculi, are formed in the urinary tract. These stones can develop anywhere in the urinary tract, including the kidneys, bladder, and ureters. The stones can be made up of different substances, including calcium, oxalate, uric acid, and cystine.

Kidney stones can be excruciating and can cause symptoms such as flank pain, blood in urine, nausea, vomiting and sometimes even sepsis. The size and location of the stone can also affect the symptoms experienced. Smaller stones can sometimes pass on their own, while larger stones may require medical intervention.

Several risk factors are associated with stone disease, including dehydration, high salt intake, and a diet high in oxalate-rich foods. Certain medical conditions such as gout, urinary tract infections, and certain genetic disorders can also increase the risk of developing stones. Treatment options for stone disease can vary depending on the size and location of the stone, as well as the individual’s overall health.

What is a Kidney Stone

A kidney stone is a hard, crystalline deposit inside the kidney or urinary tract. It comprises minerals and salts, and can vary in size and shape. Kidney stones can cause severe pain and discomfort when they pass through the urinary tract. If left untreated, they can also lead to complications such as urinary tract infections and kidney damage.

Kidney stones form when there are too many substances in the urine, such as calcium, oxalate, and uric acid. When these substances become concentrated in the urine, they can form crystals that stick together and grow into solid stone. Dehydration, certain medical conditions, and some medications can increase the risk of developing kidney stones.

Symptoms of kidney stones include severe pain in the back, side, or lower abdomen, nausea and vomiting, and pain or burning during urination. Small kidney stones may pass through the urinary tract independently, but larger stones may require medical treatment. Treatment options may include medications to relieve pain and help the stone pass, or surgical procedures to remove the stone or break it up into smaller pieces.

Types of Kidney Stones 

There are several types of kidney stones, including:

Calcium Stones

Calcium stones are the most common type of kidney stones, accounting for approximately 80% of all cases. They are usually composed of calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate. Calcium oxalate stones are more common than calcium phosphate stones and form when there is an excess of oxalate in the urine. 

Oxalate is a naturally occurring substance found in many foods, including fruits, vegetables, and nuts. When there is too much oxalate in the urine, it can bind with calcium to form crystals that can eventually become stones. Calcium phosphate stones are less common and usually occur in people with a metabolic disorder or renal tubular acidosis.

Risk factors for calcium stones include a diet high in oxalate or salt, dehydration, family history, obesity, and certain medical conditions, such as hyperparathyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, and urinary tract infections. Symptoms of calcium stones may include pain in the back, side, or abdomen, painful urination, and blood in the urine. Some people may experience no symptoms, and the stones may only be discovered during routine imaging tests.

Struvite Stones

Struvite stones, also known as infection stones, are formed due to urinary tract infections caused by certain bacteria such as Proteus, Klebsiella, and Pseudomonas. These bacteria produce an enzyme called urease, which breaks down urea in urine, producing ammonium, which in turn leads to the formation of struvite stones. 

These stones are often large and can cause significant kidney damage if left untreated. Struvite stones are more common in women and can recur after treatment if the underlying infection is not properly addressed.

Symptoms of struvite stones are similar to those of other kidney stones, including severe pain in the back, side, or abdomen, nausea and vomiting, and difficulty passing urine. Diagnosis is made through imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or ultrasounds. Treatment options for struvite stones include extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL), percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL), and ureteroscopy with laser lithotripsy. Antibiotics are also prescribed to treat any underlying infections.

Uric Acid Stones

Uric acid stones are one of the most common kidney stones, accounting for approximately 10% of all kidney stones. These stones form when there is an excess of uric acid in the urine, which can happen due to various factors such as diet, genetics, and medical conditions like gout or chemotherapy.

Uric acid stones can be particularly painful and may require medical intervention to pass. Symptoms of uric acid stones can include intense pain in the back or side, nausea, vomiting, and blood in the urine. To diagnose uric acid stones, a healthcare provider may order imaging tests such as X-rays or CT scans, as well as urine and blood tests.

Cystine Stones

Cystine stones are a type of kidney stone composed of cystine, an amino acid found naturally in the body. These stones form when there is an excess of cystine in the urine, forming crystals that can accumulate and grow over time. Cystine stones are relatively rare, accounting for less than 1% of all kidney stones, but they can cause significant pain and discomfort for those who develop them. 

Because cystine is less soluble than other substances in the urine, it is more likely to form crystals and stones when urine becomes concentrated. People with a genetic condition known as cystinuria are at increased risk of developing cystine stones.

Mixed stones

Mixed stones, as the name suggests, are a combination of different kidney stones, typically calcium oxalate and uric acid stones. These stones can vary in size, shape, and composition, making them difficult to diagnose and treat. 

Mixed stones can be particularly problematic because they may require a combination of treatments depending on their composition. In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove the stones. Diagnosing and managing mixed stones are important for preventing complications such as kidney damage or infection.

Determining the type of kidney stone is important to develop an effective treatment plan.

Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Stones 

Here are some signs and symptoms of kidney stones:

  1. Sharp pain in the back, side, or lower abdomen
  2. Painful urination
  3. Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  4. Blood in the urine
  5. Nausea and vomiting
  6. Difficulty urinating or frequent urination
  7. Fever and chills (if an infection is present)
  8. Pain that comes and goes in waves and varies in intensity
  9. Pain that worsens when you move or change positions
  10. Pain that may spread to the groin or genital area
  11. Pink, red, or brown urine
  12. Feeling the need to urinate urgently or frequently.

Treatment for Kidney Stones

There are several ways to treat kidney stones, contingent on the patient and type of stone. Here are the ways a urologist can treat kidney stones:

Pain Management

Pain management is the first line of treatment for kidney stones. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be used to manage pain.

  • Medications: Medications such as alpha-blockers can be used to help pass the kidney stone. Thiazide diuretics can also be prescribed to help prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) is a non-invasive medical procedure for kidney stones. During the procedure, a machine sends shock waves through the body to break up the stones into small pieces that can pass out of the body through urine. 

ESWL is typically performed as an outpatient procedure, and patients are often given a sedative or anesthesia to help them relax during the procedure. After the procedure, patients may experience some discomfort and pain in the back and abdomen and may need to take pain medication for a few days. Most patients can return to their normal activities within a few days of the procedure.


Ureteroscopy is a procedure that is commonly used to treat kidney stones. During the procedure, a urologist will use a special instrument called a ureteroscope to examine the ureter and kidney for any signs of stones. If stones are present, the urologist can use the ureteroscope to break them up or remove them. 

Recovery time from this procedure is generally short, with patients often returning to their normal activities within a few days.

Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL)

Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL) is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to remove large kidney stones that cannot be treated with other methods. It is typically recommended when the stone is larger than 2 cm in size, located in the lower pole of the kidney or in a location that makes it difficult to access, or in cases where other treatment options have failed. 

During the procedure, a small incision is made in the back, and a nephroscope, a thin tube with a camera and tools, is inserted into the kidney to visualize and remove the stone. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia, and patients typically require a hospital stay of one to two days following the surgery.

Natural Remedies

Some people may try natural remedies such as drinking plenty of water, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar to help pass kidney stones. However, the effectiveness of these remedies is not well-established.

The treatment plan for kidney stones will vary depending on the size and location of the stone and the severity of symptoms. You must consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

Recovery From Kidney Stones

The recovery from kidney stones depends on the size of the stone and the type of treatment received. After a non-invasive procedure like ESWL or ureteroscopy, most patients can resume normal activities within a few days. However, they may experience some discomfort, such as mild pain and blood in the urine. Drinking fluids and taking pain medication as prescribed can help alleviate these symptoms.

For patients who have undergone percutaneous nephrolithotomy, recovery may take longer. This more invasive procedure involves making a small incision in the back to access the kidney. Patients may experience pain and soreness at the incision site for a few weeks. They may also need to stay in the hospital for a few days to monitor for complications.

Regardless of the type of treatment received, patients are typically advised to drink plenty of fluids to help flush out any remaining stone fragments and prevent future stones from forming. They may also be advised to avoid certain foods or drinks that can increase the risk of stone formation, such as foods high in oxalate or drinks high in sugar.

Ways to Avoid Kidney Stones

Kidney stones can be very painful and can lead to complications if not treated properly. To prevent kidney stones, patients can take the following steps:

  1. Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water and fluids can help flush out the kidneys and prevent the formation of kidney stones.
  2. Maintain a Healthy Diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help prevent the formation of kidney stones. Foods high in oxalates, such as spinach, rhubarb, and nuts, should be consumed in moderation.
  3. Limit Sodium Intake: High sodium levels in the diet can increase the risk of kidney stones. Patients should limit their intake of processed foods, canned goods, and other foods high in sodium.
  4. Moderate Animal Protein Intake: A diet high in animal protein, such as meat and dairy products, can increase the risk of kidney stones. Patients should limit their intake of these foods and choose plant-based proteins instead.
  5. Manage Underlying Conditions: Patients with high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes are at a higher risk of developing kidney stones. Proper management of these conditions can help reduce the risk of kidney stones.
  6. Take Medications as Prescribed: Patients with kidney stones may be prescribed medications to prevent the formation of new stones. It is essential to take these medications as prescribed by a healthcare provider.
  7. Avoid Dehydration: Dehydration can increase the risk of kidney stones. Patients should avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can cause dehydration, and drink plenty of water and fluids.
  8. Exercise Regularly: Regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of developing kidney stones.
  9. Monitor Calcium Intake: Consuming too much or too little calcium can increase the risk of kidney stones. Patients should talk to their healthcare provider about their calcium intake and whether they need to make any changes to their diet.
  10. Avoid Certain Supplements: Patients should avoid supplements such as vitamin C, which can increase the risk of kidney stones. It is important to talk to a healthcare provider before taking any supplements.

Call Z Urology Today!

At Z Urology, we understand the pain and discomfort kidney stones can cause. We also understand how a kidney stone can completely disrupt your life. We are here to help you get back to your daily routine.

If you are experiencing symptoms of kidney stones or have a history of kidney stones, it is essential to seek medical attention to prevent further complications. At Z Urology, our expert urologists specialize in diagnosing and treating kidney stones. 

Our state-of-the-art facilities and advanced technology enable us to provide our patients the highest quality of care. Take your kidney stones before your kidney stones cause more pain and discomfort. Please schedule an appointment with us today to receive personalized care and treatment options that are tailored to your specific needs.