Comprehensive Urology

Diseases and Conditions


Imaging Services

Delta Medix Patient General Information

Delta Medix Patient General Information

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones (calculi) typically form when your urine becomes too concentrated, causing crystals to separate from the urine and build up inside the kidneys. Stone may be as small as a grain of sand, or as large as a golf ball. Some stone pass out of the body without the need for intervention, but others can cause severe pain if they become trapped in one of your ureters (the narrow tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder).

Risk Factors

  • Caucasian males, age 20 – 60
  • Dehydration (not drinking enough water)
  • A diet too high in salt, calcium or oxalates (such as spinach, chocolate, or nuts), excess vitamin C or D, or a high protein diet
  • Family history of kidney stones or a previous stone
  • Metabolic diseases (such as hyperparathyroidism or gout)
  • Inactive lifestyle or prolonged bed rest
  • Frequent urinary tract infections or other bladder problems
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease
  • Certain rare hereditary disorders


Call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms, which may indicate a kidney stone:

  • Sudden, intense pain in your back or side, near your kidney - Pain may radiate towards abdomen, groin or genital area
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Blood in your urine
  • Frequent painful urination
  • Fever – especially if accompanied by any other symptoms may be an emergency indicating a blockage of the ureter
  • Some stones cause no symptoms at all


In addition to taking a medical history and doing a physical, your doctor may order one of the following:

  • Plain x-ray of the kidneys, ureters and bladder (KUB)
  • CT scan
  • IVP (intravenous pyelogram, a special dye test to evaluate the urinary tract
  • Ultrasound


Many kidney stones do not require treatment or will pass without surgery. However, several procedures exist if your stone does need treatment.

  • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) – sound waves pass through the body and break the stone into smaller fragments that will pass more easily
  • Ureteroscopy with or without lithotripsy – a special videoscope is passed into the urinary tract where the stone can be seen, grasped or broken into smaller fragments with a laser
  • Percutaneous Nephrostolithotomy (PCNL) – I videoscope is placed directly into the kidney from the back to break up and remove large or complicated stones
  • Nephrolithotomy is an open surgical procedure to remove kidney stones for a small percent of patients when other methods are not successful

Reducing the risk of stone recurrence

More than half of those who develop one kidney stone will develop recurrent or additional stones. Your doctor may order special urine and blood tests to help determine how to decrease the risk factors of recurrence. Based on these results, your doctor may recommend:

  • Drinking plenty of water every day
  • Reduce salt and/or protein intake
  • Avoid foods high in oxalate
  • Avoid / reduce caffeine intake
  • Eat a special diet
  • Take special medications
  • Watch your calcium intake