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Kidney stones (also known as renal calculus) are solid, crystalline masses made up of calcium oxalate or other compounds. They usually develop along the urinary tract especially kidneys and are one of the most painful medical conditions.  There are various home remedies to prevent and cure small stones; however, medical intervention and surgery are required when the stones are big and obstruct the urinary tract. Depending on the size and the area of obstruction different types of surgeries like Shock Wave Lithotripsy, Tunnel surgery (percutaneous nephrolithotomy), Open surgery and Ureteroscopy are performed for the removal of kidney stones.

Read more about "Lithotripsy"

You may have passed kidney stones without realising it

Kidney stones are one of the most painful medical conditions. However, sometimes the stones are so small that you may not feel pain in your body or may even pass them in your urine without realizing it.

Men are more likely to get kidney stones!

Yes, Men are more susceptible to developing kidney stones. A recent study showed that about 11% of men will develop one (or more) kidney stone in their lifetime as opposed to 6% of women.

Calcium doesn’t cause kidney stones.

Dietary calcium is not responsible for causing stones in the body. Calcium is required for a healthy body and also healthy kidneys! It’s another compound known as calcium oxalate which is found in a variety of fruits, vegetables and chocolates which you need to steer clear of to avoid kidney stones.

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Types of Kidney stones

Kidneys are one of the most important parts of the body. They are responsible for filtering blood before sending it back to the heart and help in the formation of urine. Once our body receives the required amount of nutrition from the food, the remaining waste products are passed on to the kidneys. Sometimes the number of waste products in the bloodstream is higher than the water content which leads to the formation of crystals within the kidneys. These crystals are also known as kidney stones or renal calculus. They are small in size but can grow bigger as more minerals stick to it.

They are of four types namely:

  1. Calcium stones: These are the most common type of kidney stones. They are formed when there is a high amount of calcium oxalate in your body or if you are exposed to high levels of vitamin D. they can also form if the level of water drops in your body or if you sweat a lot and don’t replace the fluids you have lost.

  2. Cystine stones: These are the least common type of stones and occur through a rare hereditary disorder called cystinuria.  Once you get a cystine stone, there is a chance that you may have one again.

  3. Struvite stones: These stones are usually caused by urinary tract infection and are horn-shaped.

  4. Uric acid stones: Uric acid stones usually occur when there is a high amount of protein in your body. It may typically occur when there is less fluid intake in your body. Uric acids stones are common in gout patients and are softer than other stones.

Kidney Stone Symptoms

The number one indication of kidney stones is the pain which a patient feels which according to some is sharp and worse than labor pain. However, sometimes the stones are small and can go unnoticed when passed without any pain.

"The symptoms depend on the size of the stones and the area of obstruction in your body. "

Other symptoms include Pain or burning during urination, Nausea, Vomiting, Blood in urine, Frequent urination, Fever and chills, Smelly urine, the Varying intensity of pain.

Kidney Stone Removal - Procedure

Steps followed by urologists to provide kidney stone treatment are listed below, Have a look.

The process is initialized by some tests: After identifying the symptoms, the doctor will run various tests to confirm the diagnosis like CT scan, X-ray or an ultrasound scan. Once it's confirmed, the urologist will then assign various home remedies and treatments to surgically remove the stone.

Some of the procedures for kidney stone removal are listed below.

  • Shock Wave Lithotripsy: Shockwave lithotripsy is the most common procedure used for kidney stone removal. It is a non-surgical technique for treating stones where high energy shock waves are directed towards the kidney stones in the ureter. These shock ways break down the kidney stones into small pieces so that it easily passes in urine. If large pieces remain, another treatment can be performed. Very large stones cannot be treated through this technique hence the shape and size of the stone matters while performing it.
  • Ureteroscopy: Ureteroscopy is another method to treat kidney stones in the ureter or the kidneys. It is also a non-surgical method although anesthesia will be given. The urologist will insert a scope through your bladder into the ureter and using a wire basket to remove the stones from inside. If the stones are larger, the doctor will pass a laser through the scope to break them up. The whole procedure takes up to 1-2 hours and can be done with or without using a stent.
  • Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy: This is a surgical technique used to remove the stones from the kidneys. It is usually performed when the stones are larger than 2 cms and can take up to 2-3 hours to complete. The doctor makes a small incision through the skin and removes the stone from there using a suction tube. If there are multiple stones then the whole procedure will be performed multiple times.
  • Open surgery: This is the least common type of kidney stone removal surgery performed across the world. It is administered usually when the kidney stones are too hard and big to break down and can only be removed through an incision in the back or side of the body. It takes approximately 2-3 hours to completed and the patient has to be hospitalized for at least 6-9 days. The recovery from an open surgery also takes a greater amount of time than any other procedure.

Read about "When is lithotripsy required"

Risks In Kidney Stone Removal

Kidney stone removal surgery has overall low risks but complications may arise in patients after the surgery. Some of the most common risk factors are listed below, Have a look.

  • Recurrence of kidney stones: Any sort of medical surgery doesn’t guarantee that the kidney stones won’t recur in the future. If it happens again the patient might have to undergo surgery again and take the prescribed medicines.
  • Damage to other organs: The surgical, as well as non-surgical methods of removing kidney stones, pose a high risk of damaging the organs while performing it. The urinary tract is very sensitive and any damage to it can cause difficulty in urination or a constant burning sensation while urinating. Hence, the urologist needs to be extremely careful while inserting the stent or wires.
  • Change in the structure of ureter: This is one of the major complications and can happen due to the use of the ureteroscope or due to thermal injury caused by a laser probe. Other minor complications like the migration of stones to other parts, heavy bleeding or muscular tear can also happen. So, if you feel any discomfort after a few days of surgery report to the doctor immediately.
  • Lithotripsy side effects: Lithotripsy is although a safe way of getting kidney stones removed but it also has some of the worst side effects. For example, pain from passing stone fragments and urinary tract infection.

Read about "Five Foods to Avoid When You Have Kidney Stones"

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Disclaimer

The information provided on this webpage contains general information about medical conditions, causes, symptoms & treatments. The information is compiled from open sources that were available to us and is solely for the purpose of general reading & not a result of thorough research or tests conducted in laboratories. Therefore, the contents of this article are neither medical advice nor intended to replace consultation with a medical practitioner, and should not be treated as an alternative to medical diagnosis or treatment from your doctor, or any other healthcare professional.
External links to information and other websites provided here are purely for information purposes and Credihealth does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, genuineness, reliability of such links/websites. Moreover, the information provided hereunder is not intended to be a substitute for getting in touch with emergency healthcare.

About

Kidney stone removal is a procedure through which the stones obstructing the kidneys or urinary tract are identified and either broken down or removed from the body through different surgeries depending on the size of the stones and the obstructed area.

  • Treatable by medical professional

  • Requires medical diagnosis

  • Requires lab tests or imaging

  • Requires general anaesthesia

Treatment of Kidney stone removal

Kidney stone removal surgery involves the breaking down or removal of kidney stones (also known as renal calculus) which are solid, crystalline masses made up of calcium oxalate from the kidneys or urinary tract.

 

Symptoms of Kidney stone removal

There are quite a few symptoms of kidney stones which may vary depending on the size of the stones and area of obstruction.

  • Pain areas:  Lower back, stomach, side of the body.

  • Pain or burning during urination

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Blood in urine

  • Frequent urination

  • Fever and chills

  • Smelly urine

  • Frequency- About 1 million surgeries every year

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