Kidney stones (urolithiasis) are solid, rock-like deposits that form inside of the organs that make urine (kidneys). A kidney stone may form in a kidney and move into the bladder, where it can cause intense pain and block the flow of urine. Kidney stones are created when high levels of certain minerals are found in the urine. They are usually passed through urination, but in some cases, medical treatment may be needed to remove them.
- A condition in which certain glands produce too much parathyroid hormone (primary hyperparathyroidism), which causes too much calcium buildup in the blood.
- Buildup of uric acid crystals in the bladder (hyperuricosuria). Uric acid is a chemical that the body produces when you eat certain foods. It usually exits the body in the urine.
- Narrowing (stricture) of one or both of the tubes that drain urine from the kidneys to the bladder (ureters).
- A kidney blockage that is present at birth (congenital obstruction).
- Past surgery on the kidney or the ureters, such as gastric bypass surgery.
- Having had a kidney stone in the past.
- Having a family history of kidney stones.
- Not drinking enough water.
- Eating a diet that is high in protein, salt (sodium), or sugar.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Blood in the urine (hematuria).
- Pain in the side of the abdomen, right below the ribs (flank pain). Pain usually spreads (radiates) to the groin.
- Needing to urinate frequently or urgently.
- Your medical history.
- A physical exam.
- Blood tests.
- Urine tests.
- CT scan.
- Abdominal X-ray.
- A procedure to examine the inside of the bladder (cystoscopy).
Depending on the size, location, and makeup of the stones, treatment may involve:
- Analyzing your urine before and after you pass the stone through urination.
- Being monitored at the hospital until you pass the stone through urination.
- Increasing your fluid intake and decreasing the amount of calcium and protein in your diet.
- A procedure to break up kidney stones in the bladder using:
- A focused beam of light (laser therapy).
- Shock waves (extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy).
- Surgery to remove kidney stones. This may be needed if you have severe pain or have stones that block your urinary tract.
Follow these instructions at home:
- Drink enough fluid to keep your urine clear or pale yellow. This will help you to pass the kidney stone.
- If directed, change your diet. This may include:
- Limiting how much sodium you eat.
- Eating more fruits and vegetables.
- Limiting how much meat, poultry, fish, and eggs you eat.
- Collect urine samples as directed by your health care provider. You may need to collect a urine sample:
- 24 hours after you pass the stone.
- 8–12 weeks after passing the kidney stone, and every 6–12 months after that.
- Strain your urine every time you urinate, for as long as directed. Use the strainer that your health care provider recommends.
- Do not throw out the kidney stone after passing it. Keep the stone so it can be tested by your health care provider. Testing the makeup of your kidney stone may help prevent you from getting kidney stones in the future.
- Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
- You may need follow-up X-rays or ultrasounds to make sure that your stone has passed.
- Drink enough fluid to keep your urine clear or pale yellow. This is the best way to prevent kidney stones.
- Eat a healthy diet and follow recommendations from your health care provider about foods to avoid. You may be instructed to eat a low-protein diet. Recommendations vary depending on the type of kidney stone that you have.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
Contact a health care provider if:
- You have pain that gets worse or does not get better with medicine.
Seek immediate treatment if:
- You have a fever or chills.
- You develop severe pain.
- You develop new abdominal pain.
- You faint.
- You are unable to urinate.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider.