2020-10-20

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Kidney stones: symptoms, diagnosis & treatment

Bladder stones may occur as a result of inflammation of the kidneys, bladder, or ureters. Bladder stones are crystal aggregates that form inside the urinary bladder especially when the urine is highly concentrated. The presence of the stone in the bladder is referred to as cystolithiasis and when it is positioned in any other part of the urinary system like the kidney then it is referred to as urolithiasis.

This stone (also referred to as cystolith) is made up of calcium or magnesium, and they normally measure between 0.2-2 cm but at times they are way bigger or smaller. These bladder stones tend to irritate the bladder and affect the urine flowing outside the bladder. Although the occurrence of bladder stone is less common as compared to the kidney stones, about 95% of all the bladder stone cases occur men.

Types of kidney stones

There are several types of kidney stones. The calcium stone which is one of the commonest types of kidney stones are composed of calcium mineral that principally binds to the oxalates and also binds to the phosphates. Both these minerals are consumed with food, but they are not very essential for the body. The uric acid stone is especially found in the people who are suffering from gout. The gout treatment has now become much more improved than it used to be initially. Today, this kind of stone is common in many people but there are no obvious problems of uric acid. The struvite stone which is also known as the “infection stone” is mainly caused due to an infection in the urinary tract infection which is caused by several bacteria. They take an entire week to develop and infect the whole kidney. The cystine stone is found in the patients who are suffering from a genetic kidney disorder that is known by the name of cystinuria. The drug stone is formed by the crystallization of certain minerals.

Signs & symptoms of bladder stone

These stones tend to plug the bladder and prevent the urine from flowing freely. In some cases, the crystal can scratch the lining of the bladder thus leaving you susceptible to various other infections.

Usually, these stones are passed out of the body with the urine stream itself and most of the kidney stones that are formed are passed out of the body without even causing any symptoms. But if these stones become larger in size like 2-3 millimeters they obstruct the ureter.

This causes severe episodic pain, which is felt in the lower abdomen as well as the groin and this condition is called renal colic.

At times the stones formed are too small and can pass out freely in urine, and they cause no symptoms, but if they are big they cause various symptoms including:

  1. Severe pain waves in the lower abdomen which are accompanied by chills, nausea & vomiting.
  2. Pain while passing out urine.
  3. Bloodstain in the urine.
  4. Change in the urination pattern completely, you might start passing urine more frequently or at times wake up in the middle of the night to urinate.
  5. The crystals make it difficult for the patient to pass urine.
  6. Inability to pass urine unless staying in specific positions.
  7. Abnormally colored or cloudy urine.

Diagnosis

Various tests are done to determine the cause of the symptoms and if there is a stone in the patient’s bladder some tests are done to confirm the doctor’s suspicion. These tests include urinalysis, x-rays, ultrasonography, or Cystoscopy. The most commonly used test is intravenous urography which provides a photograph of the bladder, kidney, and ureter. If the stone is there then they will be seen in these pictures.

Treatment

With cytology, the doctor can easily examine the bladder of the patient from the inside. This test involves inserting a cystoscope (fiber-optic camera) into the bladder through the urethra. If the stone is found in the bladder it is normally broken and washed out. This procedure is referred to as cystolitholapaxy and after the stone has been eliminated the patient is given some antibiotics to lower the infection risk.

A special kind of ultrasound referred to as lithotripsy is used to break up the crystal inside the bladder into small pieces which can be passed out with urine. If the stone is too big for this method to work then a surgical procedure is done to remove this stone.

Bladder stones tend to recur a lot of so it is better to reduce the chances of it occurring again. So it is better to drink more than enough water daily and also make sure that any underlying condition for example gout is treated in time and appropriately. Drinking plenty of water helps flush out the small crystals from the bladder. If the stone is not removed in time it might result in chronic bladder dysfunction, bladder cancer, or urinary tract infection.


This article is written by Dr. Gaines W. Hammond, the urologist and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. All rights reserved, including the right to the public this article by Dr. Gaines W. Hammond.

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