Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones


Kidney stones are hard, calcified, mineral deposits that form in the kidneys. It could be caused by a variety of factors including a high salt intake, obesity and consumption of certain medications or supplements. The stones typically form in places where un-expelled urine stagnates and causes a mineral build-up over time. It can occur in the kidneys, ureters or bladder. Passing a kidney stone can be a very painful process. However, they don’t usually cause any permanent damage if they are discovered in time. If the kidney stone becomes large and forms a urinary obstruction, it may require surgical removal.

Signs and symptoms

Kidney stones don’t usually cause any symptoms until they get dislodged and begin to move around in the urinary tract. Patients may experience sharp shooting pains in the abdomen or lower back. The pain typically comes in waves and intensifies while urinating. The patient may also have other symptoms such as pink, red or brown-coloured urine, frequent urination, feeling the need to urinate while the bladder is empty, nausea and vomiting. If the kidney stone has caused an infection, the patient may have fever and chills as well.

Causes and Risk Factors

Kidney stones are caused by the crystallisation of urine in the urinary tract. Not drinking enough water, consuming excessive mineral salts and certain medications can cause kidney stones to form. Certain pre-existing medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, gout, hyperparathyroidism and renal tubular acidosis can also lead to the formation of kidney stones. Kidney stones are mainly classified into four types based on the minerals it contains – calcium stones, struvite stones, uric acid stones and cystine stones. Chronic dehydration, obesity and a highly-processed food rich diet can increase your risk of kidney stones. Family history of the condition also increases a person’s risk of developing kidney stones.


When the kidney stones become dislodged and travel down the urinary tract, they cause a host of complications such as irritation of the ureters, urinary obstruction and kidney infections, leading to permanent kidney damage.


The diagnosis begins with patient medical history and a physical exam. If kidney stones are suspected, the doctor will require diagnostic tests, including blood tests, urine tests and a CT scan or X-ray to visualise the size and location of the kidney stone.


Treatment for kidney stones is customised to the individual case. Small kidney stones may require minimal intervention – These can be passed naturally by drinking plenty of water and taking oral medications. The oral medications help break up the kidney stones so they can pass through the urinary tract more easily and relieve pain. The doctor may give the patient a medical strainer to collect the kidney stones that have passed for laboratory analysis. Large kidney stones may be treated with extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), using shockwaves to break up the kidney stones so they can pass naturally. The doctor may also recommend surgical removal of the kidney stone. Depending on the case, the surgeon may opt to perform a percutaneous nephrolithotomy or an ureteroscopy.


Proper hydration and emptying the bladder completely each time you urinate are the keys to preventing kidney stones.

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