What are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are hard deposits of calcium and minerals that form in the kidneys. In most of the cases, these stones are formed from the crystallization of minerals from stagnated urine.

What causes Kidney stones?

There is a delicate balance maintained in the urine in our body. When this balance of minerals is disturbed, kidney stones are formed. Some of the reasons for the imbalance are:

  • Lack of enough fluid in the body

  • Hormonal imbalance

  • Intake of a diet which is high in oxalate, sodium and protein

  • Family history

Symptoms / when to call your doctor

When the stone is stationary in the kidney, it does not cause any pain. But, when it moves from the kidney into the ureter, it causes symptoms like:

  • Extreme pain in the back and sides

  • Pain while passing urine

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Red or brown urine

Why you should see a doctor?

You should see a doctor if you have unbearable pain which makes you vomit. This is because the pain will not subside till your doctor treats you for the kidney stones.

How is it diagnosed?

The doctor can diagnose kidney stones by a physical examination to understand where the pain is originating from. In addition to the physical exam, the doctor might advise:

  • Blood and urine tests

  • Imaging tests like CT scan or X ray

Dietary Restrictions

It’s best to avoid food which are rich in minerals which form kidney stones. Some of the diet recommendations are:

  • High intake of water and fluids

  • Avoiding salty, high protein and fatty food

  • Having citrus fruits like lemon, oranges, sweet lime is helpful

Treatment for Kidney Stones:

There are several treatments available for removing kidney stones. The doctor will recommend treatment based on the size of the stones. If the stones are very small in size, drinking plenty of water and taking medication will help you pass the stones. However, if the stones are larger in size, the doctor will recommend you to undergo surgery for it.

Types of treatments:

SpecificsExtracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)RIRSPercutaneous Nephrolithotomy
Cuts and WoundsNoNoYes
PainMild painMild painYes
Used for treatment ofSmall sized stonesSmall sized stonesLarge/irregular shaped stones
Time taken for procedure1 hour1-3 hours20-45 minutes
Hospital StayOutpatient procedureOutpatient procedure/1 day2-3 days
Dietary RestrictionNoNoYes
Recovery Time24 hours24 hours2-3 Weeks

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)

This procedure is used for treating small kidney or ureter stones.

Flow of the procedure:

  • Patient is given a sedative or local anaesthesia

  • High energy sound waves are sent near the location of the stones

  • This causes the stones to break into small pieces

  • The stone pieces pass out of the system through urine within a few days after the procedure

Recovery Time and Dietary Advice:

  • Outpatient procedure with mild pain

  • Resume to normal routine from next day

  • Intake of 3 litres of water everyday

Risks involved in the treatment:

There are very less complications through this treatment. Some of the risks may be:

  • Mild pain when the stones pass through urine

  • Urinary tract infection

  • Bleeding in the urinary system

  • Inability to pass urine

RIRS (Retrograde Intrarenal Surgery)

RIRS is a surgical procedure for removal of kidney stones that involves using a viewing tube called a fiberoptic endoscope. The stone is seen through the scope and can then be manipulated or crushed by an ultrasound probe, or evaporated by laser.

Flow of the procedure:

  • Patient is given general anaesthesia for the procedure

  • Scope is placed through the urethra into the bladder and then through the ureter into the kidney.

  • Stone is removed by ultrasound, laser or manually through small forceps

Recovery Time and Dietary Advice:

  • Outpatient procedure or 1-day discharge with mild pain

  • Resume normal day routine from the next day

  • Intake of 3 litres of water everyday

Risks involved in the treatment:

Some of the risks of the procedure may be:

  • Fever

  • Bleeding

  • Urinary Infection

  • Reduced kidney function

Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL)

This procedure is used for large stones that are more than 2 cm in size. It's also used when the ureter stones have an irregular shape.

Flow of the procedure:

  • Patient is given general anaesthesia for the procedure

  • An incision is made in the back to reach into the kidney

  • The stone is removed directly from the incision

  • If the stone is too big to be removed, it is broken into smaller pieces and then, the pieces are removed

Recovery Time and Dietary Advice:

  • 2- 3 days hospital stay

  • Wound takes 1-3 weeks to heal

  • Fibre rich food is advised

Risks involved in the treatment:

Some of the risks of the procedure may be:

  • Infection

  • Bleeding

  • Reduced kidney function