Patient Guide To Kidney Stone Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention



Symptoms and Diagnosis

Types of Stones

Dietary Prevention

Xray/ CT Scan/ Ultrasound/ IVP

Surgical Removal/ Lithotripsy

Causes of Stones

Genetic Causes

Medical Diseases




Author Information



What Are Kidney Stones?:  A kidney stone is a large crystals or "stone" that forms in the kidney.  Different salts in the urine can precipitate to form a stone.  These salts precipitate most commonly when they occur in high concentrations in the urine.  Stones occur commonly and usually do not cause damage to the kidney or urinary tract.  Sometimes the stone(s) remains in the kidney without ever being noticed.  When the stone passes from the kidney to the bladder severe excruciating pain ensues that is relieved only after the stone has passed.  If the stone gets stuck in the ureter (see image) on its way from the kidney to the bladder, severe unrelenting pain can occur until the stone is removed.  In a minority of people the stone never makes its way out of the kidney but continues to grow until it interferes with the function of the kidney.  

Purpose Of This Website: Kidney stones are an extremely common condition with a 1 in 10  lifetime risk for the general population.  They occur more commonly in certain groups and professions, such as, Caucasions, males and people with sedentary lifestyles or jobs with decreased access to water, such as police officers.  Unfortunately, most people who have had a stone will develop more.  This web site will describe the different types of kidney stones, and their diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive strategies.  Since recurrent KIDNEY STONES CAN BE PREVENTED,  an appropriate evaluation should be performed.  

How To Use This Web Guide: This guide is meant to educate people with kidney stones about the different types of stones, their possible causes, and different medical, dietary, and surgical treatments.  This page should be particularly useful to those who know what type of stones they form or have had  24 hour urine and standard blood studies.  You can ask your doctor the final analyses from these tests and use this guide for further understanding.  You should not use this web site to determine your own treatment strategies.  It  does not replace the professional advice of your physician, but rather serves as an aid for further understanding.

What Doctor Should I See For My Stones:  Several types of doctors can help you cope with your kidney stone problem.  The type of doctor you should see often depends on your unique problems.  In general, for someone who has had only one uncomplicated episode of forming and passing a single stone, a visit with a general internist or family practitioner is probably sufficient. For someone who has a stone that is actively passing and causing severe pain, a visit to the emergency room is necessary for intravenous fluids and strong pain relievers until the stone and pain pass.  If the stone is stuck or a stone is found to be growing and threatening the function of the kidney, then a urologist (who is a surgical specialist) will be needed to remove the stone (see Surgical Removal/Lithotripsy).  For people with a history of recurrent kidney stones, multiple stones, or a very complicated first kidney stone episode a nephrologist (a medical kidney disease specialist) will likely by helpful to perform a thorough blood, urine, metabolic, and dietary analysis in order to utilize dietary and medical interventions.  Scientific studies have  proven that proper interventions (medical and dietary) do significantly decrease the formation of new stones.