Urinary stones, also known as kidney stones, are are hard masses that form in the urinary tract and may cause pain, bleeding, or an infection or block of the flow of urine.
The kidneys are two “bean-shaped” organs, located at the back of the abdomen up under the ribs, and they help in the removal of wastes from the body, by acting as filters.
As the kidneys filter blood, some of the minerals and acid salts filtered into the urine can accumulate and harden over time. These solid crystalline deposits are called kidney stones and can form in one or both kidneys. The stones can travel down the urinary tract and block the flow of urine, causing pain and bleeding.
This can happen due to:
If you have been diagnosed with kidney stones or suspect you have kidney stones, please make an appointment with Dr Love to discuss next steps.
Kidney stone formation is a common urinary system disorder that can form in any individual. However, men, and overweight people are at a higher risk of developing them. A family history of kidney stones also makes you more likely to get them yourself.
Symptoms of kidney stones may not show up until the stone moves around the kidney or down into the urinary tract.
Symptoms may include:
You should call your doctor if you find it difficult to pass urine, or the pain increases and is accompanied with fever, chills, vomiting and nausea
When kidney stones are suspected, your doctor may order blood, urine and imaging tests (X-ray, ultrasound, CT scans) to diagnose the condition, CT scans being most commonly used these days.
You may also be asked to urinate through a sieve to collect and test the kidney stones that pass in the lab.
The results will help your doctor to determine the cause and formulate an appropriate plan for treatment.
Treatment depends on the type of stone and its underlying cause.
Small kidney stones may be flushed out by drinking plenty of water every day, possibly helped by medications to relax the urinary tube muscles, or, occasionally, through medication to dissolve the stones.
Additionally, your doctor may prescribe medication to relieve pain.
If the stone does not progress, pain cannot be controlled, temperature or infection develops, or there is some other complication, surgical treatment will be required.
Dr. Love will recommend procedures based on the location and size of the kidney stones.
A non-invasive procedure called Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) may be recommended to break down large stones. Under an anaesthetic, and after the location of the stones is determined with the help of ultrasound or X-rays, using a machine called a lithotripter, high energy sound waves are passed into the area to be treated, from outside the body.
The shock waves will vibrate and break the stones up. without harming the rest of the body. The stone fragments can then pass out through the urine.
Sometimes, Dr. Love may use insert a stent or tube before or after the procedure, through the bladder into the kidney, to hold the urinary tube open, preventing the pieces from blocking the tube.
Another alternative procedure your doctor may suggest is ureteroscopy. This can be used for stones in the urinary tract closer to the bladder. A thin lighted endoscope tube, called an ureteroscope, is inserted through your urinary tract opening, so no incisions are needed for the procedure. Once the stone is located, tiny forceps or a basket shaped instrument at the end of the scope grabs and removes the stones. Larger stones are first broken down with a Holmium laser before removal.
Sometimes, a more invasive procedure called percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) may be performed. Dr. Love will make a small incision in your back under anaesthesia. A hollow tube with a telescope and probe is inserted into the incision, and into the kidney directly. Dr. Love can either remove the stones directly or break them into fragments before removing them.
Kidney stones can be prevented by making some lifestyle changes, like drinking more water and reducing the intake of excess salt and animal proteins.
Some patients require lifelong medications to help prevent more stones.
Dr Love and his team understand that you may be feeling nervous, anxious or embarrassed about your symptoms or condition. We want you to know that you deserve to get the treatment you need and that you can go on to live a fulfilling and satisfying life. It’s never too late.
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