Kidney Stones - Nephrolithiasis

A kidney stone is a solid mass made up of tiny crystals. One or more stones can be in the kidney or ureter at the same time.

Kidney stones are common. Some types run in families. They often occur in premature infants.

There are different types of kidney stones. The cause of the problem depends on the type of stone.

Stones can form when urine contains too much of certain substances that form crystals. These crystals can develop into stones over weeks or months.

  • Calcium stones are most common. They are most likely to occur in men between ages 20 to 30. Calcium can combine with other substances to form the stone.
  • Oxalate is the most common of these. Oxalate is present in certain foods such as spinach. It is also found in vitamin C supplements. Diseases of the small intestine increase your risk of these stones.
    Calcium stones can also form from combining with phosphate or carbonate.

The biggest risk factor for kidney stones is not drinking enough fluids. Kidney stones are more likely to occur if you make less than 1 liter of urine a day.

Symptoms

You may not have symptoms until the stones move down the tubes (ureters) through which urine empties into your bladder. When this happens, the stones can block the flow of urine out of the kidneys.

The main symptom is severe pain that starts and stops suddenly:

  • Pain may be felt in the belly area or side of the back.
  • Pain may move to groin area (groin pain) or testicles (testicle pain).

Other symptoms can include:

  • Abnormal urine color
  • Blood in the urine
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. The belly area (abdomen) or back might feel sore.

Tests that may be done include:

  • Blood tests to check calcium, phosphorus, uric acid, and electrolyte levels
  • Kidney function tests
  • Urinalysis to see crystals and look for red blood cells in urine
  • Examination of the stone to determine the type

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