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Kidney stones

Kidney stones: Introduction

Kidney stones are small bits of hard crystallized material that form in the kidney. The human body has two kidneys. The kidneys are vital organs that filter waste products from the blood to make urine, which then flows from the kidneys into small tube called ureters into the bladder. The bladder stores urine until it is eliminated from the body through the urethra.

Kidney stones, also called renal lithiasis, are a common condition and are often made up of calcium, but can also contain uric acid or amino acids (proteins). One or more kidney stones can form in one or both kidneys. Kidney stones begin as small specks and can gradually increase in size. A person with a small kidney stone may be unaware of the condition, and it may pass in the urine out of the body without causing pain or other problems. There are generally no symptoms of large kidney stones that remain in the kidney. However, when a large kidney stone moves out of the kidney into the ureter it causes severe pain, called renal colic.

Other symptoms of a large kidney stone that has moved out of the kidney include hematuria, (blood in the urine), dysuria (difficulty urinating), nausea and vomiting. Most kidney stones generally pass out of the body in the urine. On occasion, a kidney stone can get stuck in a ureter and result in potentially serious, even life-threatening complications in some people. For more information on complications and symptoms, refer to symptoms of kidney stones.

Kidney stones are more likely to develop in men than in women. Certain other populations have a higher risk for developing kidney stones, including people over the age of 30. People who become dehydrated and/or live in hot climates are at risk for kidney stones because they lose more body water and produce smaller amounts of urine that contains a higher concentration of substances that form kidney stones, such as calcium and amino acids. Kidney stones also run in families. People with kidney deformities or anomalies, such as horseshoe kidney, are also at risk. Other diseases and condition that increase risk include obesity, being bedridden, gout, urinary tract infection, hypertension, history of kidney stone, extreme stress, and having a diet that is very high in protein.

Making a diagnosis of a kidney stone begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. Diagnostic testing includes blood tests and performing a urinalysis test, which checks for the presence of blood in the urine and other elements and help to differentiate between a kidney stone and a urinary tract infection. Imaging tests, such as ultrasound or CT, are performed to determine the cause of symptoms and locate any possible kidney stones. A urine test that includes collecting urine for 24 hours may be ordered to evaluate the urine for substances that typically form kidney stones.

A diagnosis of a kidney stone can be delayed or missed because there may be no symptoms. In addition, some symptoms of a kidney stone are similar to symptoms of other diseases and conditions, such as urinary tract infection. For more information about disease and conditions that can mimic kidney stones, refer to misdiagnosis of kidney stones.

Kidney stones may be prevented by ensuring good hydration and with prescribed medication in some cases. Once a stone has developed, treatment may include hospitalization, pain medication, and certain procedures that remove or crush large stones so that they pass more easily out of the body. Small kidney stones may require no treatment. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of kidney stones. ...more »

Kidney stones: A kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms in the kidney out of substances in the urine.

A stone may stay in the kidney or break loose and ... more about Kidney stones.

Kidney stones: Kidney stones are solid deposits of salts (e.g calcium) from the urine. These deposits can impair the passage of urine that has the potential to result in infection and kidney damage or failure in severe cases. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Kidney stones is available below.

Kidney stones: Symptoms

Small kidney stones or kidney stones that remain in the kidney may produce no symptoms. A small kidney stone may pass in the urine out of the body without causing pain or visible blood in the urine. However, when a large kidney stone moves out of the kidney into the ureter it causes severe sharp, stabbing pain in the flank area on the same side ...more symptoms »

Kidney stones: Treatments

The first step in treating kidney stones is prevention. Prevention measures include avoiding dehydration, drinking plenty of fluids, urinating as soon as possible when the urge is felt, and drinking lemonade, which may have qualities that prevent the formation of kidney stones. Medications may be prescribed to prevent the formation of certain types of kidney stones. Treating hypertension ...more treatments »

Kidney stones: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of kidney stones may be missed or delayed because there may be no symptoms of a small kidney stone or of a kidney stone that has not yet passed out of the kidney.

A diagnosis of kidney stones can be also be missed or delayed because symptoms can be similar to symptoms of other conditions. These include urinary tract infection, pyelonephritis, ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Kidney stones

Treatments for Kidney stones

Home Diagnostic Testing

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Kidney stones?

Kidney stones: Related Patient Stories

Kidney stones: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Kidney stones.

Alternative Treatments for Kidney stones

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Kidney stones may include:

  • Horse gram soup (Kuluth saar) with pomegranate seeds
  • Alternate hot and cold compress for pain
  • Watermelon juice with large pinch of coriander
  • Punarnava guggulu
  • Gokshura guggulu
  • more treatments »

Types of Kidney stones

Diagnostic Tests for Kidney stones

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Kidney stones: Complications

Read more about complications of Kidney stones.

Causes of Kidney stones

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Disease Topics Related To Kidney stones

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Kidney stones: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Kidney stones

Chronic digestive conditions often misdiagnosed: When diagnosing chronic symptoms of the digestive tract, there are a variety of conditions that may be misdiagnosed. The best known, irritable bowel syndrome, is over-diagnosed, more »

Intestinal bacteria disorder may be hidden cause: One of the lesser known causes of diarrhea is an imbalance of bacterial in the gut, sometimes called intestinal imbalance. The digestive system contains a variety of "good" bacteria more »

Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely to cause some level of diarrhea in patients. The reason is that antibiotics kill off not only "bad" bacteria, but can also kill the "good" more »

Food poisoning may actually be an infectious disease: Many people who come down with "stomach symptoms" like diarrhea assume that it's "something I ate" (i.e. food poisoning). In fact, it's more likely to be an more »

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed (it can, of course, also fail more »

Interstitial cystitis an under-diagnosed bladder condition: The medical condition of interstitial cystitic is a bladder condition that can be misdiagnosed as various conditions such as overactive bladder more »

Celiac disease often fails to be diagnosed cause of chronic digestive symptoms: One of the most common chronic digestive conditions is celiac disease, a malabsorption disorder with a more »

Chronic digestive diseases hard to diagnose: There is an inherent difficulty in diagnosing the various types of chronic digestive diseases. Some of the better known possibilities are peptic ulcer, colon cancer, irritable more »

Kidney stones: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Hospitals & Clinics: Kidney stones

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Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Kidney stones, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Kidney stones: Rare Types

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Latest Treatments for Kidney stones

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Kidney stones

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Kidney stones: Animations

Prognosis for Kidney stones

Prognosis for Kidney stones: Most kidney stones pass out of the body without any intervention by a physician. Cases that cause lasting symptoms or other complications may be treated by various techniques, most of which do not involve major surgery. (Source: excerpt from Kidney Stones: NWHIC)

Research about Kidney stones

Visit our research pages for current research about Kidney stones treatments.

Prevention of Kidney stones

Prevention information for Kidney stones has been compiled from various data sources and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Kidney stones.

Statistics for Kidney stones

Kidney stones: Broader Related Topics

Kidney stones Message Boards

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Article Excerpts about Kidney stones

What Are Kidney Stones: NIDDK (Excerpt)

A kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms in the kidney out of substances in the urine.

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. (Source: excerpt from What Are Kidney Stones: NIDDK)

Your Urinary System and How It Works: NIDDK (Excerpt)

Kidney stones is the term commonly used to refer to stones, or calculi, in the urinary system. Stones form in the kidneys and may be found anywhere in the urinary system. They vary in size. Some stones cause great pain while others cause very little. The aim of treatment is to remove the stones, prevent infection, and prevent recurrence. Both nonsurgical and surgical treatments are used. Kidney stones affect men more often than women. (Source: excerpt from Your Urinary System and How It Works: NIDDK)

Definitions of Kidney stones:

Calculi occurring in the kidney. Calculi too large to pass spontaneously range in size from 1 cm to the staghorn stones that occupy the renal pelvis and calyces. - (Source - Diseases Database)

The presence of kidney stones (calculi) in the kidney - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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