Nephrolithiasis, or a kidney stone, begins with crystallization of minerals from urine into a stone. Typically stones forming in the kidney do not cause many symptoms. If a stone drops into the ureter, the drainage tube between the kidney and bladder, it can block the flow of urine out of the kidney. The blockage leads to pressure in the kidney and renal colic, an excruciating pain that often starts in the flank and shoots into the lower abdomen or groin in waves. There can also be nausea and vomiting. “Passing a kidney stone” refers to the time in which a stone is making its way through the ureter into the bladder.
Treatment of kidney stones depends on size, location, stone type, and symptoms. Options include:
- Medications to help with passage
- Medications to dissolve stones
- Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL): fragmenting stones with a machine called a lithotripter
- Ureteroscopy: passage of small instruments into the urinary tract to fragment and remove stones from the ureter or kidney
- Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL): tunneling small instruments through the back directly into the kidney to remove larger stones
- Open or laparoscopic surgery to remove very large stones
Prevention of kidney stones involves a few tests, such as stone analysis, urine testing and blood work. Often dietary changes can be used to prevent stone formation, but some patients do require medication.
The doctors at Fore River Urology are skilled in the treatment and prevention of kidney stones. They will review all options, tailored to your individual situation. For an appointment, please call 207-518-6600.
Helpful information for patients is available at the National Institutes of Health website.