Kidney Stones
(Renal Stones, Nephrolithiasis)

Kidney Stone Summary
One in every 20 people develop a kidney stone at some point in their life. A kidney stone is a hard mineral and crystalline material formed within the kidney or urinary tract. Kidney stones symptoms and signs are, blood in the urine and pain in the abdomen, flank (lower back), or groin. A number of different conditions can lead to kidney stones including: gout, hypercalciuria, people with inflammatory bowel disease, kidney disease, and hypoparathyroidism. Some medications also increase the risk of kidney stones.
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Kidney stone facts

  • A kidney stone is a hard, crystalline mineral material formed within the kidney or urinary tract.
  • Nephrolithiasis is the medical term for kidney stones.
  • Symptoms of a kidney stone include flank pain (which can be quite severe) and blood in the urine (hematuria).
  • Kidney stones form when there is a decrease in urine volume and/or an excess of stone-forming substances in the urine.
  • Dehydration is a major risk factor for kidney stone formation.
  • People with certain medical conditions, such as gout, and those who take certain medications or supplements are at risk for kidney stones.
  • Dietary and hereditary factors are also related to stone formation.
  • Diagnosis of kidney stones is best accomplished using an ultrasound, IVP, or a CT scan.
  • Most kidney stones will pass through the ureter to the bladder on their own with time.
  • Treatment includes pain control medications and, in some cases, medications to facilitate the passage of urine.
  • If needed, lithotripsy or surgical techniques may be used for stones which do not pass through the ureter to the bladder on their own.
See the Kidney Stones Slideshow

What is a kidney stone?

A kidney stone is a hard, crystalline mineral material formed within the kidney or urinary tract. Kidney stones are a common cause of blood in the urine (hematuria) and often severe pain in the abdomen, flank, or groin. Kidney stones are sometimes called renal calculi.

The condition of having kidney stones is termed nephrolithiasis. Having stones at any location in the urinary tract is referred to as urolithiasis, and the term ureterolithiasis is used to refer to stones located in the ureters.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/17/2014

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Kidney Stone Symptoms

Kidney stones often cause no pain while they are in the kidneys, but they can cause sudden, severe pain as they travel from the kidneys to the bladder. Symptoms and signs include:

  • excruciating, cramping pain in the lower back and/or side, groin, or abdomen
  • blood in the urine.

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