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WHAT ARE KIDNEY STONES

  • Shivani Tyagi
  • August 27, 2019

As the name implies, Kidney stones are formed in the kidneys. The presence of stones in the urinary tract is referred to as Urolithiasis while the kidney stones are referred to as Nephrolithiasis and the stones in the ureter are termed as Urolithiasis. The location of the stone in the Kidney or urinary tract is more important than its size.

While oftentimes, the smallest kidney stones can directly be passed out of the body with the mere pressure of the urine builds up even without the person ever knowing it, sometimes this is not the case and kidney stone can grow to larger proportions.

Large kidney stones can especially be life-threatening as they can potentially block the urinary tract and cause the kidney to shut down over time. Kidney stone occurrences in men have been reported to be higher than women, this could be because of a number of factors and men often hold their bowels for longer.

SYMPTOMS OF KIDNEY STONES

Anyone with kidney stones may experience following signs and symptoms :

  • The patient experiences pain that spreads to the lower abdomen and groin
  • There is severe pain in the back and side, below the ribs
  • The patient experiences nausea and vomiting
  • The patient experiences pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
  • The urine is in pink, red or brown color
  • There is pain during urination
  • There is a persistent need to urinate
  • The urine appears cloudy or is foul-smelling.
  • The patient is unable to urinate in a single sitting and has to resort to urinating small amounts of urine at a time.
  • The patient experiences fever and chills if an infection is present

The pain caused by a kidney stone may change from the portion of the human body to the other depending on the position and movement of the kidney stone as it is in the urinary tract where there are a constant influx and efflux of fluids.

DIAGNOSIS OF KIDNEY STONES

If the patient is suspected to be carrying a kidney stone, he or she is advised to take up the following tests:

  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound KUB
  • CT Scan or NCCT KUB
  • Blood tests may accurately reveal excess calcium or uric acid in the patient’s blood.
  • Urine analysis to rule out any infection the urine or kidney

TYPES OF TREATMENT FOR KIDNEY STONES

For smaller stones with minimal symptoms, the following treatment is advised:

  • Drinking a lot of water
  • Pain relievers
  • Medical therapy

In cases where the patient is unable to pass the kidney stone on their own, the doctor may give them a medication to help pass the kidney stone.

FOR LARGER STONES, THE FOLLOWING TREATMENT IS RECOMMENDED AND CARRIED OUT:

Certain types of kidney stone cases cannot be treated with conservative measures – either because they’re very large to pass on their own or because they can potentially cause bleeding, kidney damage or if there is an on-going urinary tract infection. These cases may require more extensive treatment. Procedures may include as follows:

  1. Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy or ESWL : This type of treatment is done using sound waves to break up the kidney stones of small size. ESWL potentially uses sound waves to create strong vibrations (shock waves) that are responsible for breaking the stones into tiny pieces that can then be passed in the patient’s urine.
    ESWL Image MTC
  2. PCNL- Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy : PCNL is a type of surgery performed to remove very large stones in the kidney. PCNL involves surgically removing a kidney stone using small telescopes and instruments inserted through a small incision in the back of the patient.
  3. RIRS OR Retrograde Intrarenal Surgery : -Using a scope to remove stones
    RIRS Image MTC A flexible scope is sometimes used to remove a smaller stone in the ureter or kidney, it is a procedure where the doctor may pass a thin lighted tube (ureteroscope) equipped with a camera through the urethra and bladder to the ureter.

Once the stone is located, special tools are used to snare the stone or break them into pieces that will then pass into the urine of the patient.

The doctor may then place a small tube also known as the stent in the ureter to relieve swelling and promote healing. The patient will probably need general or local anesthesia during this procedure.

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