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Kidney stones


Alternative Names:

Renal calculi; Nephrolithiasis; Stones - kidney

Symptoms:

You may not have symptoms until the stones move down the tubes (ureters) through which urine empties into your bladder. When this happens, the stones can block the flow of urine out of the kidneys.

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

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

Other symptoms can include:

Expectations (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
Complications:
  • Obstruction of the ureter (acute unilateral obstructive uropathy)
Calling your health care provider:

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 blockage from a stone, passage must be confirmed either by capture in a strainer during urination or by follow-up x-ray.

Prevention:

If you have a history of stones:

  • Drink plenty of fluids (6 - 8 glasses of water per day) to produce enough urine.
  • You may need to take medicine or make changes to your diet for some types of stones.
  • Your doctor may want to do blood and urine tests to help determine the proper prevention steps.
References:

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

Finkelstein VA. Strategies for preventing calcium oxalate stones. CMAJ. 2006;174:1407-1409.

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


Review Date: 10/2/2013
Reviewed By: Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, 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.

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