Bladder Stones

Bladder Stones

Overview

Bladder stones are hard lumps of mineral build-up that occur in the bladder. Bladder stones may occur when minerals in concentrated urine crystallise in the bladder into lumps. This can be caused due to chronic dehydration resulting in a high concentration of minerals in the urine and failure to empty the bladder completely. Bladder stones are most common in men above the age of 50.

Signs and symptoms

Small bladder stones may not cause symptoms. Common symptoms associated with bladder stones are abdominal pain, blood in the urine, burning sensation, difficulty during urination and cloudy urine.

Causes

Bladder stones are formed when the bladder does not empty fully. A number of conditions could prevent complete emptying of the bladder including a swollen prostate, nerve damage to the bladder or the urinary sphincter, bladder diverticula and anterior vaginal prolapse. A diet high in fats, salts and sugar can also accelerate the formation of bladder stones.

Risk factors

Men over the age of 50 are the demographic most vulnerable to bladder stones.

Complications

Bladder stones that do not pass can cause urinary tract blockages that lead to infections.

Diagnosis

To diagnose the patient, the doctor will begin with a physical exam and a personal and family medical history. The doctor will also require a panel of urine tests, a cystoscopy (an endoscopic exam to look for blockages in the urinary tract) and imaging tests including a CT scan, an ultrasound and an X-ray scan.

Treatment

Small bladder stones can pass through on their own. The patient may be advised to drink a lot of water to help the stone pass. If they do not pass on their own, the doctor may prescribe medication to break up the stones and ease their passage. Larger bladder stones may require surgical intervention. The surgeon may choose to perform an open extraction procedure or use endoscopic lasers to break up the stones and flush them out.

Prevention

To prevent bladder stones, drink plenty of water and focus on emptying the entire bladder during every urination.

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