Search Encyclopedia:    
List of Topics Print This Page
 

Kidney stones


Alternative Names:

Renal calculi; Nephrolithiasis; Stones - kidney

Symptoms:

You may not have symptoms until the stones move down the ureters. These are the tubes that carry urine into your bladder. When this happens, the stones can block the flow of urine out of the kidneys.

The main symptom is severe pain. It starts suddenly and may go away suddenly:

  • Pain may be felt in the belly area or side of the back.
  • Pain may move to the groin area (groin pain) or testicles (testicle pain).

Other symptoms can include:

Outlook (Prognosis):

Kidney stones are painful but most of the time can be removed from the body without causing lasting damage.

Kidney stones often come back. This occurs more often if the cause is not found and treated.

You are at risk for:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Kidney damage or scarring if treatment is delayed for too long
Possible Complications:
  • Obstruction of the ureter (acute unilateral obstructive uropathy)
When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of a kidney stone:

  • Very bad pain in your back or side that will not go away
  • Blood in your urine
  • Fever and chills
  • Vomiting
  • Urine that smells bad or looks cloudy
  • A burning feeling when you urinate

If you have been diagnosed with a blockage from a stone, your health care provider will look at the urine you collect or at an x-ray to make sure it has passed.

Prevention:

If you have a history of stones:

  • Drink plenty of fluids (6 to 8 glasses of water per day) to produce enough urine. Your urine should always look watery and pale.
  • You may need to take medicine or make changes to your diet for some types of stones.
  • Your provider may want to do blood and urine tests to find ways to prevent stones in the future.
References:

Curhan GC. Nephrolithiasis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 128.

Davis M, Wolff M. Patient education: tips for preventing calcium oxalate kidney stones. J Ren Nutr. 2011 Nov;21(6):e31-2. PMID: 22018661. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22018661

Ferrandino MN, Peitrow PK, Preminger GM. Evaluation and medical management of urinary lithiasis In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 46.

Finkelstein VA. Strategies for preventing calcium oxalate stones. CMAJ. 2006;174:1407-1409. PMID: 16682705. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16682705


Review Date: 1/21/2015
Reviewed By: Scott Miller, MD, urologist in private practice in Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

   View History
  Kidney stones

   
   

 

About UPHS   Contact Us   Site Map   Privacy Statement   Legal Disclaimer   Terms of Use

The University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, PA 1-800-789-PENN © 2015, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania