How Can Kidney Stones Be Detected
The diagnosis of urinary tract calculi begins with a focused history. Key elements include past or family history of calculi, duration and evolution of symptoms, and signs or symptoms of sepsis. The physical examination is often more valuable for ruling out nonurologic disease.
Urinalysis should be performed in all patients with suspected calculi. Aside from the typical microhematuria, important findings to note are the urine pH and the presence of crystals, which may help to identify the stone composition. Patients with uric acid stones usually present with an acidic urine, and those with stone formation resulting from infection have an alkaline urine. Identification of bacteria is important in planning therapy, and a urine culture should be routinely performed. Limited pyuria is a fairly common response to irritation caused by a stone and, in absence of bacteriuria, is not generally indicative of coexistent urinary tract infection.
Because of the various presentations of renal colic and its broad differential diagnosis, an organized diagnostic approach is useful . Symptomatic stones essentially present as abdominal pain. Renal colic may be suspected based on the history and physical examination, but diagnostic imaging is essential to confirm or exclude the presence of urinary calculi. Several imaging modalities are available, and each has advantages and limitations .
Can Kidney Stone Symptoms Come And Go
The length of time a stone can hang around is the primary reason that a person may feel like kidney stone symptoms come and go.
Once you start feeling the pain of a kidney stone, it can take anywhere between one to four weeks for the stone to actually pass. In the meantime, the pain can seem sporadic. Here’s why:
“During a bout of kidney stones, the initial pain is typically caused by the stone making its way through your very narrow ureter tube. There can also be pain if the stone lodges itself there and blocks urine flow out of the kidney, which results in pressure buildup and painful swelling,” explains Dr. Kannady.
As your body tries to move the kidney stone through your ureter, some of your pain may also be from the waves of contractions used to force the kidney stone out. The pain may also move as the kidney stone moves along your urinary tract.
“Once the stone makes it to your bladder, the pain might subside to some degree and you may notice urinary symptoms in its place. The final push from your bladder to outside of your body can reignite sharp feelings of pain, as the stone is now passing through another narrow tube called your urethra,” says Dr. Kannady.
When To See A Doctor
A person should talk to their doctor if they experience symptoms of a UTI, such as pain, fever, and frequent urination. The doctor will conduct tests to help determine whether the symptoms are those of a UTI or a kidney stone. In either case, a person may require treatment.
Additionally, if abdominal or back pain is so severe that it requires pain medication, or if a person experiences unrelenting nausea or vomiting alongside pain, they should seek medical care.
In order to diagnose a kidney stone, a doctor may order an imaging test, such as an ultrasound or CT scan. These tests can also indicate the size and location of the stone.
A urinalysis will determine if infection or blood is present in the urine, and a doctor will carry out a blood test to check for more severe signs of infection.
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Symptoms Of Kidney Disease
Kidney disease is called a silent disease as there are often few or no symptoms. In fact, you can lose up to 90 per cent of your kidneys functionality before experiencing any symptoms. Some signs and symptoms include:
- a change in the frequency and quantity of urine you pass, especially at night
- blood in your urine
- pain or burning when you pass urine
- high blood pressure.
If your kidneys begin to fail, waste products and extra fluid build up in your blood. This, and other problems, gradually leads to:
- tiredness and inability to concentrate
- generally feeling unwell
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Prevention Of Kidney Disease
Medication and changes to lifestyle, along with an early referral to a kidney specialist , can prevent or delay kidney failure.
Heathy lifestyle choices to keep your kidneys functioning well include:
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables including legumes and grain-based food such as bread, pasta, noodles and rice.
- Eat lean meat such as chicken and fish each week.
- Eat only small amounts of salty or fatty food.
- Drink plenty of water instead of other drinks. Minimise consumption of sugary soft drinks.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Stay fit. Do at least 30 minutes of physical activity that increases your heart rate on five or more days of the week, including walking, lawn mowing, bike riding, swimming or gentle aerobics.
- If you dont smoke, dont start. If you do, quit. Call the Quitline or ask your doctor for help with quitting.
- Limit your alcohol to no more than two small drinks per day if you are male, or one small drink per day if you are female.
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
- Do things that help you relax and reduce your stress levels.
A range of medication is available for high blood pressure. Different blood pressure medications work in different ways, so it is not unusual for more than one type to be prescribed. The dose may change according to your needs.
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How Long Does It Take To Pass A Kidney Stone
The amount of time it can take for you to pass a kidney stone is different from anothers. A stone thats smaller than 4 mm may pass within one to two weeks. A stone thats larger than 4 mm could take about two to three weeks to completely pass.
Once the stone reaches the bladder, it typically passes within a few days, but may take longer, especially in an older man with a large prostate. However, pain may subside even if the stone is still in the ureter, so its important to follow up with your healthcare provider if you dont pass the stone within four to six weeks.
Information Gained From Imaging
The emergency department is a common setting for the initial presentation of patients with obstructing stones. Such a diagnosis might be suspected without imaging however practitioners must entertain a wide differential diagnosis for patients with severe abdominal and/or flank pain. Imaging modalities with high sensitivity provide the clinician with confidence that symptoms are caused by an alternative pathology when no stones are visualized. Alternatively, imaging modalities with high specificity demonstrate that a patientâs symptoms are related to stones when they are visualized. Measurements of sensitivity and specificity can vary widely throughout the literature based on several factors, including the method used as the reference standard to determine true-positive and true-negative values, and the population of patients being examined.
Broadly, the available imaging modalities include CT, ultrasonography, KUB radiography, and MRI. The sensitivity, specificity, dose of ionizing radiation, and relative costs vary between modalities . An algorithm is also proposed for imaging patients with suspected stones in the emergency department setting .
A proposed algorithm for imaging patients with acute stone disease in the emergency department
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How Can I Tell If I Have A Kidney Stone
Routine screening for kidney stones common but not recommended for all people.
Kidney stones can be detected using imaging such as X-rays, ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI. The best imaging currently available for kidney stone detection is a CT scan.
If you have crystals in your urine, that does not mean that you have a kidney stone. Crystals in the urine are common. If you have crystals in your urine along with other symptoms of kidney stones, you should see a doctor for an exam and imaging.
Who Is At Risk For Kidney Stones
Anyone may develop a kidney stone, but people with certain diseases and conditions or those who are taking certain medications are more susceptible to their development. Urinary tract stones are more common in men than in women. Most urinary stones develop in people 20 to 49 years of age, and those who are prone to multiple attacks of kidney stones usually develop their first stones during the second or third decade of life. People who have already had more than one kidney stone are prone to developing further stones.
In residents of industrialized countries, kidney stones are more common than stones in the bladder. The opposite is true for residents of developing areas of the world, where bladder stones are the most common. This difference is believed to be related to dietary factors. People who live in the southern or southwestern regions of the U.S. have a higher rate of kidney stone formation, possibly due to inadequate water intake leading to dehydration than those living in other areas. Over the last few decades, the percentage of people with kidney stones in the U.S. has been increasing, most likely related to the obesity epidemic.
A family history of kidney stones is also a risk factor for developing kidney stones. Kidney stones are more common in Asians and Caucasians than in Native Americans, Africans, or African Americans.
Uric acid kidney stones are more common in people with chronically elevated uric acid levels in their blood .
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Common Kidney Stone Symptoms
Kidney stones can be debilitating and painful . While a stone forms in the kidney, there may be no signs or symptoms. Most people start experiencing symptoms once the formed stone passes into the ureter . The most common kidney stone symptoms include:
Where Is Kidney Stone Pain Located
The sharp pain associated with a kidney stone moves as the stone progresses through your urinary tract. The most common places to feel pain are in your:
- Lower abdomen or groin
- Along one side of your body, below your ribs
- Lower back
However, while pain is certainly the most noticeable symptoms of kidney stones, it’s not always the earliest sign or even the most telling sign, for that matter.
“The pain associated with a kidney stone typically isn’t felt until after its already formed and is passing through your urinary tract,” explains Dr. Kannady. “In addition, due to differences in anatomy, men and women describe kidney stone pain slightly differently. Not to mention that pain itself is relative and everyone has a different threshold for it.”
Plus, the intensity of the pain isn’t necessarily a measure of how problematic the kidney stone might be or become. Smaller stones that are likely to pass on their own can still be very painful. And not every kidney stone that requires medical intervention comes with gut-wrenching pain.
“Any time you’re experiencing pain, it’s important to see your doctor. But if you’re experiencing pain, even if it’s only mind, in combination with the kidney stone symptoms above and, in particular, if you have a fever or severe trouble urinating it’s definitely important to see your doctor,” warns Dr. Kannady.
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How To Diagnose Kidney Stones At Home
Each year, over 500,000 Americans visit emergency rooms for kidney stones. The likelihood of developing a kidney stone has steadily increased over the past several decades today, one in 11 individuals will develop a kidney stone during their lifetime.
The formation of these hardened minerals and salts can affect any part of the urinary tract from the kidney to the bladder. Often characterized by extreme abdominal pain, kidney stones normally remain harmless to the structure of an individuals urinary tract health, and are commonly passed without medical intervention. Many individuals may pass kidney stones without ever knowing they were present in their system.
Four main types of kidney stones affect individuals:
Calcium stones The most common form of kidney stones, calcium stones usually form due to high levels of oxalate being present in the body. Diet, vitamin D, and intestinal bypass surgery are popular causes for oxalate buildup.
Struvite stones As a response to infection in areas like the urinary tract, struvite stones can form quickly and grow to large sizes.
Uric acid stones Often the result of little water intake, high-protein diets, and individuals with gout. Uric acid stones can also occur due to genetic factors.
Cystine stones Formed due to a hereditary disorder that results in the kidney producing excess amount of the amino acid cystinuria.
Kidney Cancer Risk Factors
As noted above, there currently arent any kidney cancer screening tests recommended for routine use among the general public. However, in cases where an individual has an especially high risk of developing this disease, a physician may regularly look for kidney cancer tumors using imaging tests such as ultrasounds, intravenous pyelograms , computerized tomography scans and magnetic resonance imaging scans . Risk factors for kidney cancer include:
- Von Hippel-Lindau disease
- A family history of kidney cancer
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How Do Health Care Professionals Treat Kidney Stones
Health care professionals usually treat kidney stones based on their size, location, and what type they are.
Small kidney stones may pass through your urinary tract without treatment. If youre able to pass a kidney stone, a health care professional may ask you to catch the kidney stone in a special container. A health care professional will send the kidney stone to a lab to find out what type it is. A health care professional may advise you to drink plenty of liquids if you are able to help move a kidney stone along. The health care professional also may prescribe pain medicine.
Larger kidney stones or kidney stones that block your urinary tract or cause great pain may need urgent treatment. If you are vomiting and dehydrated, you may need to go to the hospital and get fluids through an IV.
When Its Time To Get Help
Although many stones will pass on their own without any treatment, in some cases a procedure is needed to diagnose, break up or remove stones altogether.
One such procedure is lithotripsy which uses high-energy shock waves to break up large stones into smaller ones.
Your doctor may also perform a retrograde pyelography, a procedure during which a small camera is passed into the bladder, and dye is injected through a small catheter so that fluoroscopy can be used to visualize the ureter and kidneys.
If you suspect youre having early symptoms of kidney stones, dont wait for the pain to become excruciating before seeking medical treatment!
The physicians and staff at Norman Urology Associates are dedicated to serving the urological needs of Norman and surrounding communities. Why not reach out to us today to make an appointment?
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How Can I Prevent Kidney Stones
There are several ways to decrease your risk of kidney stones, including:
- Drink water. Drink at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses every day . Staying hydrated helps you urinate more often, which helps flush away the buildup of the substances that cause kidney stones. If you sweat a lot, be sure to drink even more.
- Limit salt. Eat less sodium. You may want to connect with a dietician for help with planning what foods you eat.
- Lose weight. If youre overweight, try to lose some pounds. Talk to your healthcare provider about an ideal weight.
- Take prescriptions. Your healthcare provider may prescribe some medications that help prevent kidney stones. The type of medication may depend on the type of stones you get.
How To Detect Kidney Stones
Why is it necessary to detect kidney stones?
Kidney stones or urolithiasis are the most common pathology in the urinary system, accounting for 40-60% of pathologies of the urinary tract.
It is among the most common diseases in the world and affects both men and women.
In particular, if not diagnosed early and timely treatment will lead to extremely serious consequences.
Great impact on the work and quality of life of the patient.
So, to detect kidney stones, in addition to what your doctor diagnoses, you should also know the following factors.
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Recognizing Signs And Symptoms