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Article title: What Are Kidney Stones: NIDDK
Main condition: Kidney stones
You should call a doctor when you have
These may be signs of a kidney stone that needs a doctor's care.
In addition to removing wastes, your kidneys help control blood pressure. They also help to make red blood cells and keep your bones strong.
A stone may stay in the kidney or break loose and travel down the urinary tract. A small stone may pass all of the way out of the body without causing too much pain.
A larger stone may get stuck in a ureter, the bladder, or the urethra. A problem stone can block the flow of urine and cause great pain.
Calcium that is not used by the bones and muscles goes to the kidneys. In most people, the kidneys flush out the extra calcium with the rest of the urine. People who have calcium stones keep the calcium in their kidneys.
The calcium that stays behind joins with other waste products to form a stone.
Kidney stones may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pearl. Some stones are even as big as golf balls. Stones may be smooth or jagged. They are usually yellow or brown.
Now, doctors have new ways to remove problem stones. The following pages describe a few of these methods.
Your doctor can use a machine to send shock waves directly to the kidney stone. The shock waves break a large stone into small stones that will pass through your urinary system with your urine. The method does not require cutting open the body.
Two types of shock wave machines exist. With one machine, you sit in a tub of water. With the other type of machine, you lie on a table.
The full name for this method is extracorporeal (EKS-trah-kor-POR-ee-ul) shock wave lithotripsy (LITH-oh-TRIP-see). Doctors often call it ESWL for short. Lithotripsy is a Greek word that means stone crushing.
In this method, the doctor makes a small cut into the patient's back and makes a narrow tunnel through the skin to the stone inside the kidney. With a special instrument that goes through the tunnel, the doctor can find the stone and remove it. The technical name for this method is percutaneous (PER-kyoo-TAY-nee-us) nephrolithotomy (NEF-row-lith-AH-tuh-mee).
A ureteroscope (yoo-REE-ter-uh-scope) looks like a long wire. The doctor inserts it into the patient's urethra, passes it up through the bladder, and directs it to the ureter where the stone is located. The ureteroscope has a camera that allows the doctor to see the stone. A cage is used to catch the stone and pull it out.
Ask your doctor which method is right for you.
Your doctor may ask for a urine sample or take blood to find out what is causing your stones. You may need to collect your urine for a 24-hour period. These tests will help your doctor find ways for you to avoid stones in the future.
You can also drink ginger ale, lemon-lime sodas, and fruit juices. But water is best. Limit your coffee, tea, and cola to one or two cups a day because the caffeine may cause you to lose fluid too quickly.
Your doctor may ask you to eat more of some foods and to cut back on other foods. For example, if you have a uric acid stone, your doctor may ask you to eat less meat, because meat breaks down to make uric acid.
The doctor may give you medicines to prevent calcium and uric acid stones.
See your doctor if you have severe pain in your back or side that will not go away.
See your doctor if you have blood in your urine (urine will appear pink).
Drink lots of water to keep more
kidney stones from forming.
When you pass a stone, try to catch it in a strainer to show to your doctor.
Talk to your doctor about
how to avoid more stones.
National Kidney Foundation
30 East 33rd Street
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (800) 622-9010
or (212) 889-2210
Web site: http://www.kidney.org/
Oxalosis and Hyperoxaluria Foundation
12 Pleasant Street
Maynard, MA 01754
Tel: (978) 461-0614
Web site: http://www.ohf.org/
John Asplin, M.D.
The University of Chicago Hospitals
Zacchaeus Free Clinic
Pamela Grigsby, P.A.
Washington Nephrology Associates
Charlotte Szromba, M.S.N., R.N., C.N.N.
The University of Chicago Hospitals
American Society of Nephrology
Gail Wick, R.N., B.S.N.
American Nephrology Nurses' Association
3 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3580
E-mail: National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Web Site: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/
The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The NIDDK is part of the National Institutes of Health under the U.S. Public Health Service. Established in 1987, the clearinghouse provides information about diseases of the kidneys and urologic system to people with kidney and urologic disorders and to their families, health care professionals, and the public. NKUDIC answers inquiries; develops, reviews, and distributes publications; and works closely with professional and patient organizations and Government agencies to coordinate resources about kidney and urologic diseases.
Publications produced by the clearinghouse are carefully reviewed for scientific accuracy, content, and readability.
This e-text is not copyrighted. The clearinghouse encourages users of this e-pub to duplicate and distribute as many copies as desired.
NIH Publication No. 98-4154
e-text updated: July 1998
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