Kidney stones are made of a variety of materials, most often calcium; and can form due to several different factors. Some people are genetically prone to stone formation; but majority of stones form due to consistent low urine volume (dehydration) or dietary factors. Most stones do not cause symptoms until the stone blocks urine flow from the kidney. Typically stone symptoms can range from low grade or escalating pain, using the bathroom more frequently, blood in the urine, mild nausea and even vomiting. Stones are most commonly diagnosed on plain x-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan; and, multiple methods of imaging can be used to help determine size and location of the stone to aid in surgical planning.
The main treatment option for stones varies depending on several factors. Some stones are small enough to pass independently and for these we often prescribe medications to help increase the odds of passing the stone on your own. The other most common types of procedures used to treat stones are used based on stone size and location and they are ESWL (lithotripsy), Ureteroscopy, and a PCNL (percutaneous nephrolithotomy). And, these are typically done under some form of anesthesia. A stone left untreated can lead to chronic infections, strictures of the urinary tract, and even long term kidney damage due to chronic blockage of the kidney.