Kidney Stone Removal

kidney stone removalA kidney stone is a small hard mineral deposit that is found developing in the kidneys of certain people. These hard granules are made from acid salts and other minerals. A kidney stone can develop due to many reasons and is found located anywhere along your urinary tract (from the kidney to the bladder).

Most often stones are formed in the kidneys when the urine in it becomes concentrated which results in the crystallizing and joining of minerals in the urine, thus forming hard and visible stones over a short period of time.

Although the stones usually cause no permanent damage the very small stones often pass out of the kidney through the urinary tract and this experience can be severely painful. Surgery is often required to remove stones from the kidney that are considerably large in size or if a smaller kidney stone gets lodged in the urinary tract.

What are the signs and symptoms indicating towards a Kidney Stone Removal?

A stable kidney stone might go unnoticed for a long period of time however it may cause symptoms if its moves inside the kidney or passes on to the ureter.

When this stone moves it may cause the following symptoms:

  • Severe back and side pain
  • Spreading pain affecting the lower abdomen and the groin region
  • Waves of pain or fluctuation in pain intensity
  • Pain during urinating
  • Abnormal colored (red, brown or pink) urine
  • Opaque/bad smelling urine
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Constant urinating sensation
  • Infrequent urination
  • Infection may cause fever

The pain caused by a kidney stone is known to shift from one part of the body to the other as well as fluctuating (increasing/decreasing) in intensity as the stone shifts along the urinary tract. 

What are the causes of Kidney Stones?

Most often a kidney stone may not have a singular or even a definitive cause although there are several factors that are believed to increase your risk of developing a kidney stone.

Kidney stones are formed when the urine gets concentrated and contains more crystalline substances (calcium, uric acid or oxalate) than the urine fluid can dissolve or dilute. Simultaneously the urine may lack substances that are required to prevent crystals from forming into a larger mass.

What are the types of Kidney Stones?

The type of kidney stone can help determine the cause and may give an idea regarding reducing the risk of future development of other kidney stones as well.

These are the types of kidney stones:

Calcium stones – Most of the kidney stones are made from calcium mostly in the form of calcium oxalate. Most food items contain amounts of oxalate with different levels of concentration. The amount of oxalate in the body may increase to abnormal levels due to various causes such as high vitamin D doses, dietary factors, intestinal bypass surgery as well as several metabolic disorders. Calcium stone may also be in the form of calcium phosphate.

Struvite stones – A struvite stone is usually formed due to an infection such as a urinary tract infection (UTI). These stones develop rapidly and increase in size with few visible signs or symptoms.

Uric Acid stones – a uric acid stone develops as a result of less fluid levels in the body. This can be a result if less intake of fluid or as a result of losing excessive amounts of fluid. Several genetic factors are also responsible for increasing the risk of uric acid kidney stones.

Cystine stones – Cystine stones are found developing in people with a genetic disorder which causes the kidney to procedure excessive amounts of certain cystinuria (amino acids).

How is a Kidney Stone diagnosed?

In case a kidney stone is suspected the doctor/urologist will advise certain diagnostic tests to confirm the presence of the stone as well as to see the size and locations of the stones.

These are the diagnostic tests that are required to determine the presence and size of the kidney stone:

Blood test – Blood test helps in monitoring the health of your kidneys and also to check for levels of calcium or uric acid in the blood.

Urine test – A urine collection over a 24-hour time period can help determine the amount of stone-forming minerals being excreted by your body as well as to check if too less stone-preventing substances are being produced by the body.

Imaging test – Abdominal x-ray tests can help view large-sized kidney stones while other imaging tests such as an advanced computerized tomography (CT) scan can help see smaller-sized stones more carefully. Other imaging tests such as an ultrasound test, non-invasive test, intravenous urography, etc.

What are the procedures for Kidney Stone Removal?

There are various methods available for removing a kidney stone and the cause and type of stone will help determine the best-suited kidney stone removal method for you.

These are the methods for kidney stone removal:

Non-surgical

A non-surgical method for removal of smaller-sized kidney stones involves drinking sufficient water in a day to help flush out the stone with urine. Painkillers are prescribed during this process as the passing of kidney stone from the urinary tract can be severely painful. Medications such as alpha blockers are also prescribed in certain cases to help relax the muscles around the ureter and facilitate the passing of the kidney stone from it easily and with less pain.

Non-invasive methods

ESWL (extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy) is a form of non-invasive method for removing a kidney stone. This works by using high-frequency sound waves to create strong shock waves (vibrations) to help break the stones into smaller pieces so they can be passes out of the body through the urine. This is a considerably shorter procedure and requires around an hour.

Surgical methods

Minimally invasive surgical methods are being increasingly used to remove large-sized kidney stones worldwide. The percutaneous nephrolithotomy involve surgically removing kidney stones using minimally invasive surgery instruments.

Another surgical method for removal of a small stone from the ureter or the kidney involves using a ureteroscope, which is a thin and flexible tube with a cold light-source and a video camera attached to its end. Specialized miniature surgical tools are inserted through very small (keyhole) incisions in the abdomen or the groin to remove the stone completely.

Kidney stone removal can be performed using a variety of treatment methods and techniques depending mainly on the type and location of the kidney stone.

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