Kidney & Urinary Stones

couple holding hands on beach As one of the most common problems people encounter with their urinary system, kidney and bladder stones have been a problem for much of human history. They are painful and can cause serious problems. By learning more about them and how to prevent them, you can practice the habits that prevent you from suffering from kidney and bladder stones. West Jefferson Medical Center’s Urology department treats those dealing with this concern.

What are kidney stones?

Your body is equipped with chemicals that make urine pass through the bladder and beyond the ureter without much trouble. When these mechanisms are out of order, unfortunately, proteins and other urine residuals can cluster and harden, creating what is known as a stone. When these get caught along the way in the urinary tract, people can experience severe pain.

Diagram of kidney stonesThe cause and origin of kidney and bladder stones is still somewhat of a mystery. However, research shows that these stones can be caused by excesses of vitamin D and calcium, among other causes. Some stones are caused by foods high in calcium oxalates such as rhubarb, spinach, and peanuts.

Ways to prevent stones

Certain lifestyle habits are more likely to bring about the occurrence of kidney stones than others. People who drink more water tend to have fewer kidney and bladder stones.

Some other habits to prevent these problems are:

  • Avoiding taking calcium in pill or tablet form
  • Drinking a gallon of water each day
  • Reducing highly acidic foods

Kidney stone treatments

Once a kidney or bladder stone happens, there are a few different means by which it can be removed, though most cases will require that it eventually be passed through the urethra.

Stones can be removed using:

  • Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy – using targeted sound waves sent from outside the body to break up stones, sending them down into the urinary tract where they are passed through the urethraSurgeons in ER
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy – after making an incision in the back directly into the kidney, an instrument is used to remove as much of the stone as possible before the patient passes the remainder naturally
  • Ureteroscopic stone removal – a technique where a scope device is sent up the urethra and amplified with sound waves to destroy a stone