Treatment for Kidney Stones in Salt Lake City
How are Kidney Stones Formed?
Kidney stones can be very small and hard formations of acid salts and minerals that form on the inner surfaces of your kidneys. Normally these materials are diluted in urine, however, when urine is concentrated, they can crystallize and solidify into small masses called kidney stones.
While kidney stones cause no permanent damage, passing them can produce excruciating back and abdominal pain as they move from the kidney through the ureters (vessels connecting the kidney to the bladder). Knowing the type of kidney stones that have formed and why they developed is important in preventing the formation of new stones.
What are the Types of Kidney Stones?
Not all kidney stones are the same. The exact type of kidney stone will determine the course of action used to treat the patient’s kidney stones. These types of kidney stones include:
- Calcium stones (most common)
- Uric acid stones
- Struvite stones
- Cystine stones
Non-Surgical Kidney Stone Treatments
Fluid intake and dietary changes
You may be able to pass kidney stones by drinking plenty of water (up to 2 to 3 quarts (1.9 to 2.8 liters) a day and by remaining physically active. Dietary changes may include adjusting one’s intake of sugar, sodium calcium animal protein, insoluble fiber and vitamin C. Your physician can make recommendations based on the type and cause of your condition.
During the course of passing a kidney stone, your physician may prescribe drugs to reduce or minimize the often time debilitating pain associated with the movement of the stones from the kidney into the bladder.
What are the Symptoms of Kidney Stones?
Other than pain, patients with kidney stones often experience other symptoms such as:
- Persistent need to urinate
- Cloudy or discolored urine, usually pink, red, or brown in color
- Foul-smelling urine
- Frequent urination
- Fever or chills, typically occurs when there is an infection present
- Pain radiating from the lower abdomen and groin, or in the back below the ribs
- Nausea and vomiting
- Painful urination
Treatment for Kidney Stones
As previously mentioned, the method of treatment will depend on the particular type of kidney stone that has developed, but many of these stones are treated in similar ways.
Most often, kidney stones will come to pass. You can assist this process by drinking lots of water and taking over-the-counter pain medicine to help with pain management. It can take about four to six weeks for a kidney stone to pass. This may seem like a long amount of time, but it is safe to continue trying to pass a kidney stone on your own so long as the pain is manageable and there are no present signs of an infection. If you suspect that there may be an infection spreading within your kidney or ureter, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Some medications have been shown to help increase the body’s ability to pass kidney stones. Such medications work by relaxing the ureter, which provides the kidney stone with ample room to make its way to the bladder, where it will finally exit the body through urination. Prescription strength painkillers may also be necessary depending on each individual case.
Medical Procedures for Treating Kidney Stones
Kidney stones that can’t be managed or treated with dietary and fluid intake measures, because of their size or because of ongoing urinary tract infections or bleeding, may need more involved approaches for treatment. These include:
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL)
This common procedure uses ultrasonic shock waves to break the stones into very small particles that can be passed in your urine. Typically, a patient is immersed into a tub of water or lies on a soft cushion for the procedure.
When ESWL is ineffective, or in conditions where a stone is very large, a physician will remove the stone through a small incision in your back using an instrument called a nephroscope.
Ureteroscopic stone removal
When a kidney stone is lodged in the ureters, the stone can be removed with a small instrument called an ureterescope that is passed directly into the ureter through the bladder. Besides physically snaring and removing a stone, the ureteroscope can also be used to direct laser or ultrasonic energy to break up the stone. These methods work well on stones in the lower part of the ureter.
When kidney stones are caused by overactive parathyroid glands, (located on the four corners of your thyroid gland) the cause is most often a small benign tumor in one of the glands. To correct this condition a surgeon can surgically remove the tumor.
If the pain becomes too great, or if the ureter becomes completely blocked and begins to affect kidney function, surgery may be necessary. Modern technology utilized by Dr. Gange allows for this surgery to be minimally invasive with minor recovery time.
Schedule your Kidney Stone Appointment Today
If you are looking for ways of preventing kidney stones, here are some tips from Summit Urology Group: