Kidney stones are hard deposits of minerals and acid salts in your urine. They can be painful when passing through the urinary tract.
There are different types of kidney stones:
- Calcium oxalate stones: the most common type of kidney stone, linked with eating foods high in oxalate, such as beets, nuts, potatoes, spinach, beans and soy
- Calcium phosphate stones: caused by urinary tract infections, too much parathyroid hormone (hyperparathyroidism) or a buildup of acid (renal tubular acidosis)
- Struvite stones: more common in women, these stones are caused by certain types of urinary tract infections
- Uric acid stones: more common in men, these stones tend to occur in people who have diets high in animal protein, who don’t drink enough water or who have gout
- Cystine stones: caused by cystinuria, a hereditary genetic disorder
By identifying your exact type of kidney stone, we can recommend the best treatment and help prevent kidney stones in the future.
Who Should See a Kidney Stone Specialist
A kidney stone is a very common condition that affects 10 – 20 percent of Americans. If you’ve already had a kidney stone, you are at an increased risk of developing another within 5-10 years.
Although some kidney stones can be passed through the urinary tract with little discomfort, most stones cause symptoms such as:
- Pain in the side or groin
- Blood in the urine
Seek the care of a urologist if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Diagnosing Kidney Stones
Our urologists will conduct a thorough exam using the latest tools and techniques to diagnose your condition. Your exam may include:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Imaging studies, such as an ultrasound, x-ray, CT or MRI
Treating Kidney Stones
After our specialists determine the exact type and location of your kidney stone, we develop a customized treatment plan to help relieve your discomfort and prevent future recurrences.
To treat existing kidney stones, your urologist may recommend a number of approaches, including:
- Medication: helps pass the stone or prevent it from growing
- Ureteroscopy: a common procedure performed through the urethral opening, used to remove the stone with a basket device or break up the stone with a laser and remove the fragments
- Shockwave lithotripsy: a procedure that uses sound waves and x-rays to locate and break up stones into small pieces that can be passed in urine
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy: a minimally invasive surgical procedure using a video scope to locate and remove hard-to-reach stones
- Robotic surgery: a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed using robotic-assisted tools to remove the stone(s)
Preventing Kidney Stones
Our urologists understand that patients who have already had a kidney stone are more likely to develop another. In fact, more than 50 percent of people who form one stone will form another. That’s why we go beyond simply treating your kidney stone by collaborating with nephrology specialists to provide you with the latest information and guidance on stone prevention.
In patients who have had two or more stones, we recommend a metabolic evaluation to identify what is causing the stones. Most of the time, the most effective prevention is changing your diet. Sometimes we supplement minerals and electrolytes to prevent stones. If these steps don’t work, we may recommend medication.
Common Prevention Strategies
- Drinking lots of water
- Eating less animal protein
- Limiting your salt intake
- Increasing calcium in your diet
- Eating fewer high-oxalate foods, such as beets, nuts, potatoes, soy products and spinach
Why Choose Hackensack Meridian Health for Urology Care
We are highly experienced in the most innovative, minimally invasive procedures to remove kidney stones. Our urologists and researchers have published and presented more than 50 papers on the management of kidney stones with some of the best outcomes worldwide.
Our urologists don’t just diagnose and treat kidney stones, we identify the cause. We focus on prevention, including counseling about dietary changes, medications and surgical procedures to prevent future problems.
Our award-winning team of renowned surgeons, physicians, researchers and other health care specialists are able to provide exceptional urological expertise, advancements and cutting-edge technology to develop a highly-personalized plan for each and every one of our patients.