Kidney stones are hard deposits of minerals and acid salts that form in the kidneys, and if untreated, they can become very painful. Most kidney stones are small enough to pass through the urinary tract, and all that may be needed is to drink a lot of water to flush the kidney stones out. There are medications such as Flomax which can expedite stone passage. However, for larger kidney stones that become trapped in the ureters, or tubes going from the kidneys to the bladder, there are several other effective treatments available.
Some tests that may be performed if kidney stones are suspected are:
• Blood tests – Blood tests may show too much uric acid or calcium in your blood stream, which can indicate the presence of kidney stones.
• Urine tests – There is a 24-hour urine test which shows if you are secreting too many stone-producing minerals, or not enough stone-preventing substances.
• Imaging tests – Simple x-rays of the abdomen, ultrasounds, or CT scans may help locate the problem.
For kidney stones that are too large to pass, there are a number of effective treatments, such as:
• Sound wave treatment – Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) uses sound waves to break up large stones into small pieces that can be flushed out in your urine. This usually takes 45 to 60 minutes and may cause moderate pain, so light anesthesia or pain medication may be used.
• Surgery – If your kidney stones are very large, a procedure called percutaneous nephrolithotripsy may be performed. This procedure involves making a small incision in your back and inserting small telescopes and equipment to surgically remove the kidney stone. This is done under general anesthesia and recovery time may be one to two days in the hospital, depending on your health history and surgical tolerance.
• Scope – When a stone is in the ureter a lighted scope (ureteroscope) may be used to locate the stone. Then, the stone is grabbed with special tools and removed. It can be fragmented with a laser. You may need local or general anesthesia.
Once your kidney stones are removed, you’ll want to check with your doctor to see if special diets will help prevent the reoccurrence of your kidney stones. There are also medications available that may prevent future kidney stones.
Are you experiencing trouble with possible kidney stones? If so, contact us today! We are happy to help you fix the problem and return to living pain-free.