Kidney Stones Chattanooga, TN
What are kidney stones?
A kidney stone is a solid formation of tiny mineral crystals that can develop in anywhere in the urinary tract, but most commonly in the kidneys. Kidneys filter blood and remove waste products from the body through the urine. When abnormally high levels of these minerals become concentrated they can create a stone. Everyone can form crystals in their urine, but not everyone goes on to form kidney stones. When these crystals remain small, they can be passed without pain. Also, stones formed in the kidney that do not the block the flow of urine usually do not cause symptoms. But if they migrate into the ureters, and block the flow of urine, they may cause pain and blood in the urine. More serious issues associated with kidney stones can arise when a kidney stone blocks urinary flow and causes infection or kidney failure.
Who is at risk for kidney stones?
Kidney stones are more common in men than women. Pregnant women can develop kidney stones. People can develop kidney stones almost at any age including children.
What risk factors are included with kidney stones?
- Low fluid intake, or strenuous exercise without adequate fluid intake, which results in an excess concentration of these minerals in the urine and form crystals. Fluid refers to water, and not caffeinated beverages, or alcohol.
- Certain medical conditions and prescription drugs.
- Diet, genetics and climate also influence kidney stone formation.
- In children, diet and genetics are causative. Intake of salty foods, low fluid intake, and sodas and other foods sweetened with high fructose corn syrup put children at risk for kidney stones.
Four Main Types of Kidney Stones
Calcium stones- the majority of kidney stones occur in two main forms: calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate. Oxalate stones are most common and are due to an accumulation of calcium oxalate in the urine. Phosphate stones are less common and are due to autoimmune diseases and certain drugs. Both of these stones types can occur together.
Uric Acid stones– Uric acid stones form in acidic urine. Uric acid is a byproduct of the breakdown of animal proteins, making the urine more acidic. Gout, chemotherapy and other disorders may increase the risk for this type.
Struvite stones– Typically known to be infection stones, these stones are made of magnesium ammonium phosphate and/or calcium carbonate. They result from chronic and recurrent urinary tract infections due to specific types of bacteria.
Staghorn stones– These are stones of any type that grow large and branched, and occupy a large portion of the urinary system. They usually contain bacteria, and can destroy the kidney if untreated or cause life threatening blood infections aka sepsis.
Cysteine stones – These stones are due to an inherited disease called cystinuria. These stones tend to be very hard, which can make treating them difficult with medical and surgical therapy.
What are the symptoms of kidney stones?
Typical symptoms of kidney stones include:
- Severe abdominal pain, flank or low back pain, groin or testicular pain.
- Blood in the urine can be a common sign of a kidney stone.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fevers and chills
- Urinary symptoms such as burning, constantly feeling like you have to urinate without getting much urine out
How are kidney stones diagnosed?
If your urologist suspects a kidney stones, they will ask questions about your medical history including diet, fluid intake, family history and lifestyle. Additionally, they will order blood and urine tests, ultrasound, abdominal x-rays and likely a CT scan. Once a stone is identified treatment options will be given to you. You may read more about treatment options here.
Dr Shridharani is an expert in diagnosing and treating kidney stones. He has performed over a thousand kidney stone procedures and will get you on the right track to preventing the stones from returning with medical therapy. He is a top rated urologist in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, Alabama and Northern Georgia area. Please contact us with your concerns. We will listen, answer your questions, explain your condition and provide stellar services to address your specific needs.