Urological Conditions

Diagnosing and Treating Kidney Stones: What You Need to Know

Oct 22, 2023
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Diagnosing and Treating Kidney Stones: What You Need to Know

Given that 11% of men and 6% of women in the United States develop kidney stones at least once, the odds are good that you know someone who’s had them or you’ve had your own experiences.

The highly experienced team here at Gulf Coast Urology has certainly diagnosed and treated many patients with kidney stones and continues to do so.

Because March is National Kidney Month here in the United States, we thought we’d take this opportunity to explore kidney stones. More specifically, we review how to recognize them, how we diagnose the condition, and what your treatment options are for kidney stones.

Kidney stones are pieces of material that form when there’s excess salt or minerals in your urine. These stones can exist in your kidneys, and you can be none the wiser. In fact, you may pass stones without incident as they’re small enough to travel easily through your lower urinary tract.

If a stone becomes too large for easy passage (the size of a grain of rice or a pea, for example), however, it can block your urinary tract, and that’s when you become painfully aware of the problem.

Problematic kidney stones can lead to severe pain on one side of your lower back, and you may also experience nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. You will likely have cloudy urine, and there may be an odor.

If you suspect you have a problematic kidney stone, seeing us as soon as possible is important. Using ultrasound, we can locate the kidney stone and determine its size, which are key pieces of information that will guide your treatment. We also perform a urinalysis to determine the makeup of the stone.

Based on the information we find during our initial examination, we can recommend one of several options. If we find that your kidney stone is small enough for you to pass it without incident, we provide you with medications that help ease this process. You can speed up the passage by hydrating quite a bit to help push the stone through your urinary tract.

If the stone is large and you’re in considerable discomfort, we can discuss some minimally invasive, interventional techniques that we use for problematic kidney stones, including:

  • Shock wave therapy breaks up the stone into smaller pieces that pass more easily
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is a procedure in which we make a small incision in your back and use a small scope to remove the stone
  • Cystoscopy and ureteroscopy are different types of scopes we use for locating and removing kidney stones without making any incisions

Before we get ahead of ourselves on treatment options for kidney stones, it’s important to see one of our experts for your own unique diagnosis and recommendations.

For expert diagnosis and treatment of your kidney stones, schedule an appointment online or over the phone at one of our two offices in Houston or Clear Lake, Texas.

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To access the best, most comprehensive urological care, partner with the team at Gulf Coast Urology. Request your appointment today by calling the office or clicking the online booking tool.

Gulf Coast Urology patient and doctor