A kidney stone can be one of the most painful experiences a person can ever have. Living in Georgia, which is in the” kidney stone belt”, you have a higher risk of developing a kidney stone.
Fortunately, the physicians of Georgia Urology are experienced leaders in the treatment and prevention of kidney stones. Our kidney stones treatment and prevention program is the one of the largest in the Southeast. We offer the most advanced techniques and technology to diagnosis and treat all types of kidney stones.
If you are experiencing symptoms of a kidney stone and need an appointment to see on of our experienced physicians , call Georgia’s Kidney Stone Hotline any time day or night at 1-855-786-6311 to schedule a same day or next business day appointment.
Understanding Kidney Stones
Some Kidney Stone Facts:
- Highest incidence is seen in the Southeast United States
- More common in men than women
- Peak age group is 30 to 50
- Tendency may run in families
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are made of salts and minerals in the urine that stick together to form small “pebbles.” They can be as small as grains of sand or as large as golf balls. They may stay in your kidneys or they may make their way out of your body through the urinary tract.
What causes kidney stones?
Kidney stones form when a change occurs in the normal balance of water, salts, minerals, and other things found in urine. The urine becomes concentrated meaning you have too much of certain minerals, acid or salts.
What are the symptoms?
Kidney stones do not always cause pain. However, the first sign of kidney stones for many people, unfortunately, is the sudden development of intense, unrelenting and contraction-like pain. This pain is due to blockage of urinary flow in the kidney or the ureter and the pressure build up in the urinary system. The blockage may come and go and the pain may move from the upper back to the lower abdomen as the stone moves toward the bladder. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, bloody urine or hematuria and frequent and painful urination. Fever indicates an infection and is a medical emergency in which you should contact your physician immediately. The combination of infection and urinary blockage may lead to an overwhelming blood infection.
Most small stones tend to pass into the bladder and are expelled with urination. Bigger stones may be stuck at various points especially at the very last portion of the ureter where it is at its narrowest. Most passable stones will do so within 6 weeks.
Stones may also form in the kidney and grow to an impressive size. These larger stones may also cause pain, bleeding, infection and kidney damage. Bacteria can “hide” in the substance of kidney stone, escaping the reach of antibiotics and cause chronic urinary tract infection (UTI). The sheer volume of the stone may also impede normal urine excretion and affect kidney function.
Diagnosing Kidney Stones:
Most people form calcium stones and are otherwise healthy. Kidney stones may also be seen with a number of other medical conditions such as urinary tract infection or obstruction, gastrointestinal disorders, metabolic conditions which elevate the blood calcium levels, gout and others. A family tendency exists in some people and warrants a more detailed examination. A detailed examination, performed by our expert urologists, will determine the cause.
The following tests may be recommended to diagnosis a kidney stone and its causes:
- Detailed history including family history, lifestyle and dietary habits.
- Physical exam
- Blood and urine chemistry analysis
- Imaging tests such as CT scan, ultrasound or x-ray
Treating Kidney Stones:
The treatment of your kidney stone depends on the size and location, number and the chemical composition of the stone. Treatment options include:
- Observation: Small stones that cause no symptoms can be watched and treat later if the stone grows in size or develops symptoms. Many small ureteral stones will pass through the urinary tract by drinking enough water (8-10 glasses per day) to flush them out. Your doctor may give you a medicine to keep you comfortable.
- Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL): non-invasive procedure which uses shock waves to break or “shatter” a kidney stone into small pieces. These bits can then pass out of your body in your urine. It is an extremely safe, outpatient procedure performed under sedation. Pain is minimal and most people return to work within 1 to 2 days. As part of comprehensive kidney stone services, Georgia Urology offers our patients a simplified scheduling process and easy access to treatment 6 days a week, including Saturdays.
- Stone extraction: Endoscopic instrument is inserted into the urethra to grasp or fragment a stone lodged in the ureter. A small flexible plastic tube (called a stent) may be left in the ureter to keep it open while the stone passes.
- Percutaneous Lithotripsy (PCNL): Endoscopic instruments are placed directly into the kidney through the back used to break off or remove a larger, more complicated stone. This procedure requires a hospital stay.
The need for major surgical procedures is infrequent and reserved for a small number of patients in which other methods fail or with certain co-existing conditions or infection.
Preventing Kidney Stones:
After you have had kidney stones, you are more likely to have them again. Your urologist may make recommendations for prevention based on the specific cause(s) of your stone formation.
- For most patients who do not exhibit significant metabolic abnormalities, the most important measures are to increase fluid intake (water is best) to produce 2-3 quarts of urine per day, keeping your urine clear.
Other prevention recommendations may include:
- Avoid food high in oxalate such as chocolate, coffee, tea nuts, spinach and wheat bran.
- Limit salt and animal protein intake
- Watch your calcium intake
- Take preventative medications as prescribed
Click here for more information and to view additional resources about kidney stones.
Our experienced urologists can help you prevent the recurrence of kidney stones. Call today to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient office locations in the Atlanta metro area.