Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Renal Calculus Overview

Another name for Renal Calculus is Kidney Stone.

What is a kidney stone?
A person with kidney stones has small crystals in the urine that have enlarged to form stones. Kidney stones form when minerals, such as calcium, form small crystals in the urine. Crystals bind together and form stones, like an oyster forms a pearl from a grain of sand. Large stones can block the flow of urine in the ureters, which drain urine from the kidneys and into the bladder. About 1 out of 10 people in the US suffer from kidney stones at some point in their life. Most kidney stones pass through the urinary tract and do not require treatment.

What are the symptoms of a kidney stone?
Usually, kidney stones do not cause symptoms unless they block the flow of urine. Pain is the most common symptom of a kidney stone that has blocked the flow or urine. The pain usually begins in the back or flank and spreads to the groin on one side. The pain usually starts suddenly and quickly becomes severe. Additional symptoms of a kidney stone include abdominal pain, red or pink urine, nausea, and vomiting.

How does the doctor treat a kidney stone?
Most kidney stones pass through the urinary tract without obstructing the flow of urine. General treatment for a kidney stone includes narcotic pain medications, oral fluids, and straining the urine, in order to collect the stone. Larger kidney stones may require treatment with intravenous fluids, antibiotics, medications, and fiberoptic procedures to retrieve stones that become lodged in the ureter.

Continue to Renal Calculus Incidence

Last Updated: Oct 18, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Renal Calculus References
  1. Hall PM. Preventing kidney stones: calcium restriction not warranted. Cleve Clin J Med. 2002 Nov;69(11):885-8. [12430973]
  2. Pietrow PK, Karellas ME. Medical management of common urinary calculi. Am Fam Physician. 2006 Jul 1;74(1):86-94. [16848382]
  3. Portis AJ, Sundaram CP. Diagnosis and initial management of kidney stones. Am Fam Physician. 2001 Apr 1;63(7):1329-38. [11310648]
  4. Rao PN. Imaging for kidney stones. World J Urol. 2004 Nov;22(5):323-7. [15290203]
  5. Taylor EN, Stampfer MJ, Curhan GC. Obesity, weight gain, and the risk of kidney stones. JAMA. 2005 Jan 26;293(4):455-62. [15671430]
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