Kidney stones are small, stone-like collections of chemicals within the urine. If too much waste is in the urine and there isn't enough liquid to properly process it, crystals start to develop. Those crystals then attach to other elements in the urine and create a solid. The kidney stone will often grow in size unless it's passed with the urine. Kidney stones can stay in the kidney or may move into the urinary tract or the ureter. If the stone gets stuck and causes a blockage of urine, it can cause severe pain and damage.
Kidney stones are unique to each person. They're commonly made of calcium, phosphate, urate, oxalate, cystine, and xanthine. Every person's kidney stones may be different based on their diet and unique body chemistry.
One of the main causes of kidney stones is drinking insufficient water. Overweight people are more likely to have kidney stones, especially if their diet is high in sugar or salt. Overuse of fructose may also be tied to the development of kidney stones. Some people may have a genetic predisposition toward developing kidney stones, as well.
Pain is the main sign of kidney stones for most people. The pain is often centered on one side of the lower back. Some people describe it as feeling like a hot coal in their back. Blood in the urine, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, and cloudy urine are all possible signs of a kidney stone as well.
A medical history and physical exam is typically combined with imaging tests to diagnose kidney stones. A CT scan or a specialized X-ray can show the kidney stone's position and size.
Many kidney stones pass naturally, especially if the patient drinks a lot of water. However, when the kidney stone is too large to pass or when it's causing other problems in the body, it needs to be removed surgically.
There are several options for surgical removal today, including shockwave lithotripsy. This noninvasive procedure shatters the stone into fragments that can then be passed.
In other cases, a more extensive surgery like a percutaneous nephrolithotomy (surgical stone removal), or a nephrolithotripsy (internal lithotripsy), may be needed. These procedures are done through a small incision in the back and the kidney.
At Urology Associates of South Florida, we accept most major insurance plans. Here is a short-list of just some of the most popular plans we accept. Please contact our office if you do not see your insurance provider listed.