Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones

Nearly everyone who has suffered the sudden, sharp, long-lasting pain caused by a kidney stone describes it as agonizing. Many women say it is more painful than childbirth! Millions of people suffer from them, and Texas is actually part of “the stone belt”—an area of the southern United States known for its high rate of kidney stones.

Call 866-367-8768

Texas is located in the part of the nation known as the kidney stone belt.

Do you suffer from kidney stones?

Let the experienced kidney stone specialists at Urology Partners help you live pain-free.

CALL 866-367-8768.

 

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones form when small calcium or crystal deposits clump together in the urinary system and continue to grow. When these stones grow and increase in size, most patients become aware of some discomfort. While some kidney stones don’t cause any symptoms, others can trigger sharp cramping in the back or side with a sharp pain that often moves to the lower abdomen or groin. Other symptoms can include an intense need to urinate, a burning sensation when urinating, blood in the urine, nausea and vomiting, and pain in the tip of the penis or vagina. All of these require attention from a urologist.


What causes kidney stones?

Kidneys filter waste from the blood. This waste becomes urine and is passed out of the kidneys to the bladder through the ureter (a tube between the kidney and bladder). Urine naturally contains dissolved minerals and salts, but when it becomes too concentrated due to dehydration or factors associated with diet, disease or inherited genetic risks, the minerals and salts can clump together and form stones of various sizes.


Not all kidney stones are the same.

Some stones remain in the kidneys and don’t cause any problems. Other stones may pass through the ureter to the bladder and out of the body on their own. If stones are too large, though, they can become lodged in the ureter and block the flow of urine—causing the kidney to swell and sudden pain.

There are several types of kidney stones—calcium stones, uric acid stones, struvite stones and cystine stones. When a person has blood in their urine or sudden abdominal or side pain, urinalysis, ultrasound or a CT scan may be ordered to diagnose kidney stones.

 

Treatment Depends on Several Factors

Appropriate treatment for kidney stones is determined by the size and composition of the stone, location and length of time you’ve experienced symptoms.
The physician may recommend one of the following treatment options:

WAIT for the Stone to Pass Medications Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) Ureteroscopy (URS) Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL)



Wait for the Stone to Pass


Small stones (usually less than 5 mm) may pass on their own through normal urination. Waiting several weeks for a stone to pass may be advised if the stone is small enough to pass and the kidney is not blocked, there is no infection, and the pain is bearable with over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen.



Prescription Medications


Tamsulosin (better known as Flomax) may be prescribed to relax the ureter and make it easier for small stones to pass with urination. Pain and anti-nausea medications may also be prescribed to make the wait more comfortable.



Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)


When the size and location of a kidney stone make it difficult or uncomfortable to pass on its own, shock waves may be used to break it into smaller particles. Shock waves penetrate the body and are targeted directly on the stone. The waves break the stone into small fragments so it can pass into the bladder—minimizing trauma to the surrounding tissues. General anesthesia is typically used to prevent any discomfort during the procedure. Patients often go home the same day and are able to return to their normal activities in a few days. Urology Partners utilizes the latest and most up-to-date lithotripter—the Dornier 3. 

 

Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL)


Large stones in the kidney often require surgical removal. Under general anesthesia, a half-inch incision is made in the back or side to allow a small telescope (nephroscope) to be inserted into the kidney where the stone is located. A small tool is passed through the nephroscope to break up the stone and suction it out in pieces. A temporary tube is often left in the kidney overnight or for a few days to drain urine into a bag outside the body. Patients may stay in the hospital overnight or for a few days to recover. Patients are able to resume their normal activities after one or two weeks.



Ureteroscopy (URS)


In cases where ESWL is not a good treatment option, Urology Partners may recommend using a scope to directly visualize stones in the urinary system and break them up.  This minimally invasive procedure is used to treat stones in the kidney and ureter. Once you are under general anesthesia, a small telescope (ureteroscope) is inserted up the ureter and into the kidney to locate the stone and assess its size. The stones are then ablated with a Holmium laser into smaller fragments that will pass spontaneously. For larger stone fragments, a small basket-like device is used to directly grab and remove them. A temporary stent may be placed within the ureter to hold it open so urine can drain from the kidney into the bladder during recovery. Patients often go home the same day as their ureteroscopy.



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