Human kidneys get rid of various unwanted salts dissolved in urine. Sometimes these salts form crystals and then stones within the kidney.
Kidney stones are a fairly common problem and it is estimated that in the UK, 1 in 10 men, and 1 in 20 women get problems from kidney stones in their life-time. The stones are formed in the kidneys and either stay there unchanging and not causing problems, or they can change and cause problems. Change can involve growth or movement into the tube which connects the kidney and bladder (ureter). Such changes can cause pain (renal colic) and blockage (obstruction) of the kidneys. The pain of renal colic, which often comes in waves, is said to be one of the worst pains known to mankind and often requires emergency admission to hospital. Blockage can cause damage to the kidney in the long-term. Stones can also cause blood in the urine and infections.
The best test to diagnose kidney stones is a CT scan. Specialist help may be required to treat this condition.
If you are worried about the possibility of having kidney stones, the best course of action is to discuss this with a Doctor.
Treatment of kidney stones depends on the size and the position of the stone. The majority of stones need no surgical treatment as they are either small and not causing problems, or they make their own way out. Kidney stones that move usually pass through within a couple of days and initial treatment may include strong pain relief. There are various treatment options for stones that do make their own way out. These include –
-Shock wave treatment to break the stones with the help of a machine (extra-corporeal shockwave lithotripsy -ESWL)
–Surgical treatment – either by key hole surgery of the kidney (percutaneous nephrolithotomy – PCNL) or by telescopic surgery through the water pipe (ureteroscopy) using a specialist laser, or other device, to break the stones.
Once the stones are successfully treated, or a trial of monitoring is agreed, there is an ongoing risk of forming further stones. This risk can be reduced by lifestyle modifcations and we may discuss the use of a highly accurate method of investigating the cause of kidney stones called StoneScreen, to define what lifestyles modifications may be helpful. To find out more about StoneScreen please click here.
Our specialist stone consultants have years of experience of treating stones and use all the modern technology to achieve best results. They would advise you about the best treatment for your individual condition.