Kidney stones treatment
Kidney stones are the formation of tiny firm composites in the kidneys. When the stones migrate into the ureter, it causes severe pain, nausea, and vomiting (renal colic). The primary treatment includes shock wave lithotripsy (stone crushing) or endoscopic stone removal.
Kidney stones (so-called nephrolithiasis) are the concrements formation in the kidneys. Stones that pass through or become lodged narrow the urinary tract and cause severe pain (renal colic).
Nephrolithiasis is the second most common condition among all kidney diseases. It affects about 500 out of 100,000 people annually. As a rule, they appear between the ages of 20 and 40 and are about fourth as typical in men as in women.
Usually, stones are formed in the right kidney, sometimes in the left, and only in 10-15% of cases - in both kidneys. Kidney stones vary significantly in composition, shape, colour, and size. They can grow up to several millimetres or centimetres. The compound of kidney stones also varies in appearance, colour (yellow to brown to black) and texture (soft, hard).
What are the causes of kidney stone formation?
Kidney stones are formed due to the high salt content in the urine. Every person is prone to the formation of stones. However, several factors increase the risk of developing the disease:
- Reduced water intake;
- Family history of kidney stones;
- Improper nutrition;
- Anomalies of development;
- Urinary tract infections;
- Taking certain medications (diuretics and antacids).
Typical kidney stones symptoms
Small stones usually do not cause any discomfort. However, if a large stone begins to move and lodge in the ureter, it blocks the urine flow and causes kidney swelling and spasms in the ureter. This condition is excruciating for the patient and is called renal colic.
The symptoms of kidney stones depend on how large the stones are, their shape, and where they are located in the urinary tract. The main signs are the following:
- Severe sharp pain in the side and lower back;
- The pain radiates to the lower abdomen and groin;
- Burning and painful urination;
- Blood in urine:
- Constant urge to urinate;
- Nausea, vomiting, fever and chills.
The renal colic symptoms can last from a few minutes to several hours. However, as soon as the kidney stone reaches the bladder, renal colic disappears spontaneously.
How do urologists diagnose the disease?
The diagnosis is based on typical patient complaints, urinalysis and additional examination methods:
- Urinalysis is practical to find out if there is inflammation and the type of stone (which minerals are high).
- Renal ultrasound evaluates the urinary tract and its narrowing due to the stone.
- Computed tomography determines the size and exact location of the stone.
Treatment options for kidney stones
The treatment for kidney stones depends on the stone's type, size and location. Most stones are small, cause mild symptoms, and can be eliminated by the body in the urine.
Conservative (non-surgical) therapy helps the stone come out:
- A warm bath or heating pad;
- Physical activity;
- Drinking plenty of water.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) breaks stones using shock waves. Pressure breaks down stones into smaller components that the body excretes in the urine.
In the case of large kidney stones (more than two centimetres) or when diagnostics methods can't determine the exact stone location, urologists perform surgery:
- Percutaneous nephrolithotripsy. An endoscope (a tube equipped with a camera and a flashlight) is inserted through the skin into the kidney and crushes the stones then the doctor removes them. This method is suitable for larger stones or if shock wave therapy isn't successful.
- Ureterorenoscopy. The urologist inserts the endoscope into the urethra and guides it up the urinary tract to where the stone is. Then it is smashed under ultrasound guidance.
- Laparoscopy crushes and removes stones through small incisions in the body and special instruments.
The forecast for kidney stones is generally favourable. In most cases, they are removed from the body on their own.
However, within ten years, the risk of recurrence is 50%. Most often, patients have only one relapse; 10-20% experience three or more relapses during their lifetime.
What is minimally invasive treatment available for kidney stones?
Doctors perform several low-traumatic surgeries to treat kidney stones: percutaneous nephrolithotripsy and ureteroscopy. These methods are somewhat similar, breaking the stones into small pieces and then removing them.
Can I get kidney stones removed without surgery?
Yes. Non-surgical treatment for kidney stones involves changing your diet and drinking plenty of water. In cases where the disease has begun to bring discomfort, shock wave lithotripsy can help. It is a non-surgical method of crushing stones with a shock wave.
Do kidney stones lead to complications?
Yes. Kidney stones can cause complications such as infections (pyelonephritis) and narrowing or inflammation of the urinary tract (urosepsis). Thus, kidney stones are a potentially dangerous disease.
How to find a urological clinic for kidney stones?
Refer to the AiroMedical platform by filling out the form on the website or calling us. We have a large base of leading urological hospitals. In addition, the patient manager will help you find a specialized doctor to treat kidney stones.
Is shockwave therapy always possible for kidney stone treatment?
Unfortunately no. Doctors use surgical treatment options if the stone is too large or diagnostic methods have not detected its exact position.
Where can I get Kidney stones treatment?
What are the best clinics for Kidney stones treatment?
Who are the best doctors for Kidney stones?
Prof. Dr. med. Jurgen Gschwend from University Hospital rechts der Isar Munich
Prof. Dr. Torremade Barreda Josep from Teknon Medical Centre Barcelona
Dr. Luis Garcia Aparicio from Teknon Medical Centre Barcelona
Prof. Dr. med. Martin Kriegmair from Urological Clinic Munich-Planegg
Prof. Dr. med. Laszlo Kovacs from Urological Clinic Munich-Planegg