Stone Disease (Kidney and Ureteral)
Kidney stones (calculi) are hardened mineral deposits that form in the kidney. They originate as microscopic particles or crystals and develop into stones over time. The medical term for this condition is nephrolithiasis, or renal stone disease.
The kidneys filter waste products from the blood and add them to the urine that the kidneys produce. When waste materials in the urine do not dissolve completely, crystals and kidney stones may form.
Stones may pass out of the kidney, become lodged in the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder (ureter), and cause severe pain that begins in the lower back and radiates to the groin. A lodged stone can block the flow of urine, causing pressure to build in the affected ureter and kidney. Increased pressure results in stretching and spasm, which cause the severe pain.
If a stone needs treatment, the goal of treatment is to completely remove the stone that has been diagnosed and is causing symptoms. Treatment methods usually are chosen based on the location of the stone. For kidney stones, treatment may include:
- Shock wave lithotripsy: a noninvasive method using energy to fragment stones
- Percutaneous (through the skin) lithotripsy: an endoscope is inserted into the kidney with energy applied directly to the stone
- Open surgery with an incision