Dr. G.Thirumalai Ganesan

MS, M.Ch, FRCS(Glasg), FRCS (Urol)(UK)

Sunway Medical Centre,
No. 37/39, AH Block, Shanthi Colony Main Road,
Anna Nagar, Chennai-40
Tel: +91-44-7092484166,
Email: endouro@gmail.com

Frequently Asked Questions on Kidney Stones

What is a kidney stone?
The human kidneys are paired organs, which are positioned just in front of the 11th and 12th ribs. The kidneys are responsible for filtering water and other substances from the blood. The combination of these filtered substances and water is known as urine. Several of the substances commonly found in urine have the ability to crystallize. These crystals can then bind together to form a kidney stone.
Who gets kidney stones?
Patients who are at risk for stone formation include inadequate hydration, dietary practices, stones that run in families, infections, anatomical factors within the urinary tract and metabolic conditions that may promote stone formation.
What causes kidney stones?
Doctors do not always know what causes a stone to form. While certain foods may promote stone formation in people who are susceptible, scientists do not believe that eating any specific food causes stones to form in people who are not susceptible. A person with a family history of kidney stones may be more likely to develop stones. Urinary tract infections, kidney disorders such as cystic kidney diseases, and certain metabolic disorders such as hyperparathyroidism are also linked to stone formation.
What are the different types of kidney stones?
There are many different types of kidney stones. The vast majority of stones are composed of calcium. The most common types of stones are calcium oxalate (70%), calcium phosphate (5-10%), struvite (10%), uric acid (10%) and cystine (1%). It is not uncommon for a single stone to be made of more than one of these types.
What are the symptoms of a kidney stone?
The most common symptom from a kidney stone is the acute onset of severe flank pain due to the stone moving into a position in the kidney or ureter, which causes a blockage or obstruction of the flow of urine. The pain associated with kidney stones often comes in waves. It has been said that kidney stone pain is the worst pain that a man can experience. Many women state that the pain is worse than labor pain. The amount of pain experienced does not correlate in any way with the size of the kidney stone. Kidney stones can rub along the lining of the kidney and ureter, which can lead to blood in the urine. In addition, the stone may be associated with urinary frequency and irritation.
How are kidney stones diagnosed?
Sometimes "silent" stones—those that do not cause symptoms—are found on x rays taken during a general health exam. If the stones are small, they will often pass out of the body unnoticed. Often, kidney stones are found on an x ray or ultrasound taken of someone who complains of blood in the urine or sudden pain. These diagnostic images give the doctor valuable information about the stone's size and location. Blood and urine tests help detect any abnormal substance that might promote stone formation. The doctor may decide to scan the urinary system using a special test called a computerized tomography (CT) scan or an intravenous pyelogram (IVP). The results of all these tests help determine the proper treatment.
Can kidney stones damage the kidney?
Kidney stones that block or obstruct the flow of urine within the urinary tract may be responsible for infection or even deterioration of renal function.
How are kidney stones treated?
Fortunately, surgery is not always necessary. Most kidney stones, measuring less than 5 mm, can pass through the urinary system with plenty of water—2 to 3 litres a day—to help move the stone along. There are various treatment options for managing kidney stones. Some stones may be treated with shock wave treatment (Lithotripsy). Other stones may require surgical intervention. Surgical management may include Ureteroscopy, Percutaneous surgery (Keyhole surgery), Flexible ureteroscopy and Laser. Open surgery for stone disease is rarely practiced nowadays.
Can kidney stones reoccur?
Patients who had a kidney stone may form another kidney stone in the future. The risk of a patient having a recurrence of a stone can be up to 50% in 5-10 years and 80% in their lifetime.
What can I do to prevent a future kidney stone?
Depending on the type of stone that you have, we may suggest a dietary modification or medication, which may reduce your risk for future stone formation.