Kidney stone is a medical condition that is unfortunately very common among Americans.

It is estimated that 11% of American men and 7% of women will have to deal with a kidney stone at some point in their lives. Often, they are ‘silent’ and do not cause problems. However, stones of any size can cause severe symptoms such as pain and nausea when they block the kidney. Large stones can cause a variety of problems including chronic infections, blood in the urine and even long term damage to the kidney. We have vast experience in identifying, treating and preventing stones from reforming.

Fortunately, most stones can be treated with any number of non or minimally invasive alternatives. At AAUrology, we have surgeons with special training in kidney stone treatment who can provide optimal care to get you ‘stone free’ and a follow-up care program designed to keep you that way.

What Are They?

manwith back painKidney stones are crystals that form in the urinary tract. Usually found in the kidney itself, stones can also form in the bladder as well. About 70% of the time, they are formed from a substance called calcium oxalate. They can also be made from uric acid, calcium phosphate, or cystine.

The stones vary in shape and size. Some are round, and others are long and jagged. Even very small kidney stones that measure 2mm in size can cause patients a tremendous amount of pain that leads to a visit to the Emergency Room.

How do I know if I have a kidney stone?

man with kidney painKidney stones have been called the “great mimicker” due to their ability to manifest pain and symptoms in a variety of ways. Commonly they can cause an intense pain in the flank, between the edge of the rib cage and the spine. Many female patients have described the pain as worse than childbirth. They can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or blood in the urine. However, they can also lead to lower abdominal pain, urinary frequency, bladder pain, penile pain, testicular pain, etc.

The gold standard in evaluation of the presence of a kidney stone is through a non-contrast helical CT scan. They can also show up on ultrasounds or plain X-rays.

Why do I make kidney stones?

The biggest risk factors for making kidney stones is dehydration. Americans often do not drink enough water throughout the day, and this can lead to crystals forming in the urinary tract that ultimately leads to a stone. There are also genetic factors, and in fact up to 50% of patients who present with stones have a family history of this. Other factors include medications, supplements, and also dietary habits that would put a patient at risk of forming recurrent stones.

At AA Urology, after the initial treatment of the stone, we will perform a thorough metabolic workup to analyze each of the factors listed above and will come up with a comprehensive plan to reduce the patient’s risk.

What treatment options are there?

This is highly dependent on the individual stone size, shape, location, and also the patient’s symptoms. For patients with smaller stones, and does not appear to be in intense pain or have an active infection, medical treatment of kidney stones is a good option to start. For more urgent situations or those with larger stones, we will discuss the many minimally invasive surgical treatment options available.

Kidney stone surgeries

Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy

This is a procedure that utilizes shockwaves delivered from the outside of the body to fragment the stones in the kidney. The stone will break into a size of sand or powder, and will then be passed through the urinary tract. It is a low risk procedure and also the least invasive option available, but does have its limitations which will be reviewed by your surgeon.

Ureteroscopy with laser lithotripsy

This is an excellent option for stones that are stuck in the ureter. We utilize a small scope that passes into the body without the need of any incisions. This has the advantage of directly visualizing the stone, and a laser fiber can then be used to break up the stone.

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy or Tubeless PCNL

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy, or PCNL, is a minimally invasive surgery for large or multiple kidney stones. Large kidney stones have the potential of causing pain, bleeding, infections, and if left untreated, can lead to eventual deterioration of your kidney function. PCNL is designed to be the least invasive way to clear a large stone burden.

Typical indications include:

  • Larger kidney stones.
  • A stone obstructing more than 1 calyx in the kidney (known as a staghorn calculi).
  • Other procedures such as shockwave lithotripsy or ureteroscopy have failed.

How can we help you?