Frequenly Asked Questions

Medical Facts

  • What's the best way to avoid more stones?
    If you have a history of kidney stones, drink a lot of water every day! (12 full glasses). This will help to flush things through the kidneys and keep the concentration of the urine low. If your doctor has advised dietary change, be sure to follow the recommendations.
  • How does shockwave lithotripsy work?
    Sonic shocks waves are transmitted through the body tissues and concentrated upon the stone(s) in the kidney or ureter. Thousands of these waves delivered over a 30 to 45 minute period will very often shatter the stone into much tinier pieces that are easy for the patient to pass in the urine
  • What are kidney stones?
    Kidney stones (also called urinary stones or renal calculi) are mineral deposits that are formed in the kidneys, the two bean-shaped, fist-sized organs located on either side of the spine beneath the surface of your mid-back muscles. As blood flows through the kidneys, these organs filter out the waste products that the blood has carried away from the active cells in your body. Additional impurities and excess minerals are also filtered. The cleansed blood continues on its path through the body, and the trapped impurities stay behind, eventually mixing with water and passing out as urine. Sometimes, though, the filtered minerals build up in the kidneys where they can crystallize and develop into stones.
  • Can kidney stones cause problems other than pain?
    Yes, they can. By blocking the flow of urine from the kidney, stones can sometimes lead to acute or chronic infection that can damage the kidney. Obstruction alone with infection can also lead to kidney damage and ultimately, kidney failure.
  • What are the symptoms of kidney stones?
    Most stones produce no symptoms until they block the urinary tract. Then a patient may experience back pain of a dull or sharp nature that may come to move down toward the lower abdomen and groin on one side. There may be discomfort when urinating and the patient may note blood in the urine. When kidney stones fully obstruct the ureter there can be excruciating, colicky pain with nausea and vomiting.
  • Why do I need to know the type of stone I have?
    In order for your doctor to prescribe the best treatment to prevent future stones, he needs to know the type of stone from which you suffer. He may advise dietary changes, and/or may prescribe mediciations depending upon the stone type.
  • What do kidney stones look like?
    Kidney stones may be as tiny as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. They are usually yellow to brown in color and can be smooth or jagged on the surface.
  • Are all kidney stones the same?
    There are a variety of types of kidney stones. The most common type are made up of calcium combined with other waste products, (e.g. oxalate). So-called "struvite" stones are common after chronic urinary infection, and contain magnesium and ammonia. Some people form stones from the crytallization of uric acid in the kidney, and rarest of all are stones made from cystine, which tend only to occur in certain families.
  • What do the kidneys do?
    The kidneys are bean-shaped organs that are located in the back just under the rib cage. They process blood that flows through them and clean out the waste products created by the normal breakdown of muscle and by the processing of food. Without functioning kidneys, we would all be overwhelmed by these waste products which would grow in concentration to toxic and eventually lethal levels.

<< back to more FAQs