Kidney stones are pieces of a stone or crystal-like material. These stones form inside the kidneys or other parts of the urinary tract. The kidneys remove waste from the body. They also balance the water and electrolyte content in the blood by filtering salt and water.
The cause of your kidney stone may be depend on the type of stone that you have. Calcium stones are the most common type.
Calcium oxalate or phosphorus stones—These kidney stones form when the concentration of calcium or other minerals in the urine becomes too high or when minerals that prevent stone formation are too low.
Struvite stones—These stones develop as a result of a urinary tract infection. The stones are composed of ammonium, magnesium, and phosphate salts.
Uric acid stones—These stones form when urine is acidic. This may also occur in people with gout or those who are on chemotherapy.
Cystine stones—These stones form due to a rare genetic disorder that causes the kidneys to build up excess amounts of cystine. Cystine is one of the amino acids that make up proteins.
Treatment depends on the size and location of the kidney stone. Treatment may include one or more of the following:
For small kidney stones, drinking at least two or three quarts of water a day helps the body pass the stones during urination. You may be given a special cup to catch the stone when it passes so it can be analyzed. If you are having a hard time keeping fluids down, you may need to be hospitalized to receive IV fluids.
You may be advised to take pain medication. You may also be prescribed medications that may help you pass your kidney stones during urination.
Ureteroscopy uses a small camera to locate the stones located in the ureter or kidney. Once found, a small basket is used to capture and remove the stones. Larger stones can be broken up into small pieces with a laser.
Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PNL)
PNL is used to treat large stones located in the kidney. A small incision is made in the lower back. A nephroscope is passed through a tube so the kidney stones can be seen. The stones are broken into smaller pieces and removed. A temporary drain may be left in the incision site.
Lithotomy is an open surgery used to remove stones. This is rarely used because of the less invasive options available.
ESWL uses a device called a lithotripter that is applied to the skin. The lithotripter sends shock waves into the body. The impact of the shock waves breaks up the larger stones so they can be passed during urination.
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