Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones

Illustration of the anatomy of the urinary system, front view
Click Image to Enlarge

What is a kidney stone?

A kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms from crystallization of excreted substances in the urine. The stone may remain in the kidney or break loose and travel down the urinary tract. A small stone may pass all of the way out of the body, but a larger stone can get stuck in a ureter, the bladder, or the urethra. This may block the flow of urine and cause great pain.

A kidney stone may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pearl, and some are as big as golf balls. They may be smooth, irregular in shape, or jagged, and are usually yellow or brown in color.

Who is affected by kidney stones?

Kidney stones are one of the most painful disorders, and one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract. The National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Disease (NIDKD) estimates that about a million people in the United States are treated for kidney stones each year. Consider these NIDKD statistics:

What are some of the different types of kidney stones?

A kidney stone develops from crystals that separate from urine and build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney. Normally, urine contains chemicals that prevent or inhibit the crystals from forming. However, in some people, stones still form. Crystals that remain small enough will travel through the urinary tract and pass out of the body in the urine without even being noticed.

What are the symptoms of kidney stones?

The following are the most common symptoms of kidney stones. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

Prompt medical attention for kidney stones is necessary.

The symptoms of kidney stones may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

How are kidney stones diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for kidney stones may include the following:

What is the treatment for kidney stones?

Specific treatment for kidney stones will be determined by your physician based on:

Some kidney stones pass out of the body without any intervention by a physician. In cases that cause lasting symptoms or other complications, kidney stones may be treated with various techniques, including the following:

Illustration of lithotripsy
Click Image to Enlarge

How can kidney stones be prevented?

According to the NIDKD, the best ways to prevent kidney stones are the following:

Please consult your physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding this condition.

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Kidney and Urinary Disorders


Top of Page return to top of page