Kidney stones are rock like masses within the urinary tract formed by the crystallization of various elements excreted in the urine.
Kidney stones form within the collecting duct of the kidneys, where urine is first formed. They can cause pain when the stones block the flow of urine. When kidney stones travel to the ureters (tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder) they become ureteral stones. Ureteral stones are more likely to cause pain and discomfort than kidney stones.
Symptoms of kidney or ureteral stones include pain in the upper back, upper abdomen or high on the side of the abdomen, visible blood in the urine or microscopic (non-visible) blood in the urine. Nausea and vomiting can also accompany stone pain. High fever may be a sign of an associated infection and should be treated as a serious condition.
The best prevention against kidney stones involves enough fluid consumption to produce two liters, or 1/2 gallon, of urine a day. Medication can also be used to help prevent stone formation. A diet low in oxalate may help prevent the formation of calcium oxalate stones.
Kidney stones may be diagnosed through X-rays, including a KUB (Kidney–Ureter-Bladder) X-Ray, CT scans, ultrasounds or through an intravenous pyelogram (IVP). With an IVP, a patient undergoes a series of X-rays before being given intravenous contast that is filtered and excreted by the kidneys. As the contrast is excreted by the kidneys, the urinary system can be visualized through additional X-rays.
Kidney and ureteral stones are treated with a variety of procedures. Patients with small stones who have few symptoms may be observed to see if they can pass the stones on their own.
Ureteroscopy with laser lithotripsy
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)
Ureteroscopy with laser lithotripsy or extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) are performed in the Urology Surgery Center of Colorado (USCC). Our surgeons provide patients with the most technologically advanced treatment in our convenient, comfortable ambulatory surgery center. Cases of kidney and ureteral stones rise during summer months. Same day appointments are available at TUCC for many kidney and ureteral stone patients. Click here to request an appointment if you are suffering from symptoms of kidney or ureteral stones.
Click here for more information on the identification and treatment of kidney stones.
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