What is a kidney stone?
A kidney stone, or renal calculus, is a mobile solid crystalline mass produced by the kidney in some people. Approximately one in ten of the population will have a symptomatic stone episode at some point in their lives. Most stones are calcium crystals but they can be made of other substances such as uric acid or cystine.
What are the symptoms of kidney stones being present?
Whilst kidney stones can be asymptomatic, that is, you don’t experience any symptoms, patients may experience severe loin to groin pain, blood in the urine, vomiting and fever from infection. Patients often describe the loin to groin pain as the most severe type of pain they have ever experienced.
How can the presence of kidney stones be confirmed?
This usually requires a renal CT scan but often an ultrasound and a plain abdominal (KUB) x-ray will be utilised as an initial screening test. A CT scan allows your surgeon to determine the size, number and location of the stones, which assists in the treatment planning if this is required.
How are kidney stones treated?
Small stones can be observed, but larger stones or symptomatic stones will usually require treatment (refer to Ureteroscopy, Pyeloscopy, ESWL, PCNL). If stones are symptomatic the patient may need to attend their nearest hospital’s emergency department. Patients may require the insertion of a ureteric stent to clear or bypass the obstruction that the stone is causing. This may be all that can be done initially, particularly in the presence of infection.