Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are hard deposits of minerals and biologic material that solidify to form stones in the urinary tract.


Stones cause pain and other symptoms when they pass from the kidney down to the ureter (which carries urine to the bladder) and obstruct the flow of urine.

Symptoms include:

  • Extreme pain in your side and back
  • Pain that comes and goes and changes in intensity
  • Nausea, vomiting, fever or chills
  • Pink, red or brown urine
  • Persistent urge to urinate or urinating more than usual

Testing and Treatment

  • An X-ray or CT scan will reveal the location, size and number of stones, 
  • Small Stones: If your stone is small, your doctor may recommend you try to pass it out in your urine. 
  • Large or Complicated Stones: If your stone is too large to pass, blocking the flow of urine or causing other complications, your doctor may recommend one of these treatments.
    • Shockwave Lithotripsy (SWL): A machine called a lithotripter to direct ultrasonic shock waves to hit the stone repeatedly until it crumbles into small particles that you pass in your urine.
    • Ureteroscopy (URS): A flexible camera can be passed into the kidney to directly visualize stones. The ureteroscope can be used to pass instruments such as lasers to break a stone into small fragments and baskets to remove fragments. There are no incisions for this surgery. After a ureteroscopy, a temporary stent is commonly needed to prevent postoperative edema (inflammation). The stent is removed a few days later.
    • Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL):  For large stones, your urologist can perform a minimally-invasive surgery through a 1-centimeter incision in your back. Using a scope and special tools, the urologist can break apart the stone and suction it out.


Once you’ve had a kidney stone, you are more likely to have future stones. To minimize your chances of getting additional stones, follow these guidelines.


Changing your diet and increasing fluids may not be enough to prevent stones from forming. The type of stone and the urine abnormalities will help decide if you need medicine and which medicine is best.