Substances in the urine (calcium, oxalate, phosphate, and uric acid, in particular) can crystallize within the kidney and form rock-like particles (calculi) called stones. The medical term for this condition is nephrolithiasis or renal stone disease. Kidney stones may be as small as a grain of sand or larger than a golf ball. They may be smooth, round, jagged, spiky, or asymmetrical depending on their composition. Most stones are yellowish to brownish-black in color, but variations in chemical composition can produce stones that are tan, gold, or black.
The four most common types of stones are made of various combinations of calcium, phosphorus, oxalate, magnesium, ammonia, uric acid, and cystine.
Signs & Symptoms
Kidney stone symptoms can vary from person to person. Most people complain of a sharp and severe pain in their back localized to one side or the other. It may slowly evolve over a few days or it may come on quickly. The pain may radiate down into the abdomen and groin or even cause nausea and vomiting. Some patients will note blood in their urine or very dark urine
Diagnosis & Treatment
If a stone is found, there are many kidney stone treatment options available. Small stones will usually pass on their own, however it is impossible to predict when this will occur. If the stone is blocking the kidney, creating infection or causing severe symptoms, there may be a need to intervene before the stone passes.
An x-ray in our office may show an obvious stone, however, if no stone is seen and the symptoms are consistent with a kidney stone, a CT scan or IVP may be needed. These special x-rays help find a stone that is too small to be seen or is invisible to plain x-rays. A urine check at our Columbia, Missouri office is necessary to make sure there is no infection. Blood is not always present in the urine.