Kidney stone disease effects about 12 percent of men by age 70 for males and 5 percent of females in the United States. In general, the peak incidence of stones occurs when a person is in their 30’s.
Kidney stones form when materials become concentrated in the urine and form solid crystals. These crystals then lead to the development of stones when materials continue to build up around them, much like the way an oyster forms a pearl.
Risk factors for stone formation include a loss of body fluids (dehydration).
When we don’t consume enough fluids during the day, urine can become quite concentrated and darker
The image below illustrates kidney stones in three different locations.
This increases the chances of crystals forming within the urine. Diet can also affect the probability of stone formation. A high-protein diet can cause the acid content in the body to increase. This decreases the amount of urinary citrate, a “good” chemical that helps prevent stones. As a result, stones are more likely to form. A high-salt diet is another risk factor. Finally, a family history of stones dramatically increases the probability of having stones.
Symptoms and Severity
Symptoms of kidney stone can vary. Most people will complain of pain centered in their sides. The pain may also radiate toward the front of the abdomen or to the groin area. The pain may become very bad at times making you unable to find a comfortable position. Blood in the urine may also appear when a stone is present. For some people, especially those with diabetes, a fever may develop from infected urine that becomes trapped behind a stone. This condition is a medical emergency, because if the bacterial infection is not drained it can cause a critical illness
If you suspect a kidney stone Dr. Alarcon and his clinical team perform a full exam. Common tests include an immediate and complete evaluation. A blood sample will be taken to check overall kidney function and to exclude signs of infection throughout the body. Additional tests include a urine sample, a simple X-ray of the abdomen to help pinpoint the calcification and identify the likely obstructing stone. These test can be completed in the office. Alarcon Urology Center has all the necessary equipment to reach an accurate and conclusive diagnosis.
The size, number and location of stone(s) are typically the most important factors in deciding the appropriate treatment. The composition of a stone, if known, can also affect the choice of treatments. Shock Wave Lithotripsy is the most common treatment. Lithotripsy is completely noninvasive treatment which uses shock waves to break up the stone. Shock waves are transmitted through a water bath or by using a water-filled cushion that is placed against the skin. Ultrasound is typically used to locate the stone and focus the shock waves. The repeated force caused by the shock waves fragments the stone into small pieces. Other procedures are used for less common kidney stones.