What Causes Kidney Stones and How Can They Be Prevented?
Kidney stones happen there not enough water in the urinary system to dissolve all the chemicals that the kidneys are trying to eliminate. That's why we tell all patients with kidney stones to drink enough water to make 2 liters (a little over ½ gallon) of urine per day.
Most patients who have kidney stones also have abnormal or less than optimal urinary chemistry. To determine what these problems are, we collect the patient's urine for 24 hours. An urologist who is an expert in stone disease reviews the test results and designs a treatment plan. In cases in which the stones are relatively small, usually 4 mm in size or less, special medications are given to help correct any abnormalities and enable the stone to pass. It is very important that patients follow the doctor's instructions, otherwise kidney stones may return.
If a kidney stone is too large to pass on its own, there are minimally invasive treatment options that can be used to eliminate it.
Treatment options for kidney stone disease
Lithotripsy is a procedure in which a special machine is used to break up the kidney stone. While the patient is under anesthesia, the lithotripter machine is placed against the patient's side. The machine generates very strong waves of energy, similar to ocean waves, that are focused and concentrated on the stone. These shock waves pass harmlessly through tissue and work only on very hard substances like stones. After about an hour, most stones have been broken up to the point they can pass painlessly later.
Ureteroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure performed by a urologist to treat small stones in the ureter or kidney. A ureteroscope is a special telescope which provides a video image and has small “working” channels that can be passed through the bladder and up into the ureters and kidneys. The stone can then either be broken up with a laser or removed through the working channels.
Surgery may be necessary for some cases in which the stone is too large. The decision about which type of surgery might be necessary for any individual case is determined by the urologist, a specialist in this particular type of surgical procedure.
Kidney Stone Prevention Program
CHI Health Kidney Stone Prevention Program is for patients with recurrent kidney stones. A detailed urinalysis is performed and a treatment program is designed for each patient to prevent stones from forming. Learn more about the Kidney Stone Prevention Program.
For more information about treatment options for kidney stones and the Kidney Stone Prevention Program, please call us at (402) 717-2500.