Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are formed from crystals of substances found in urine, and can vary in size from tiny particles to several centimetres in size. The stones are formed in the kidney, but can pass into the bladder and the ureters.

The lifetime risk of kidney stones is about 20% in men and 10% in women. In men, it is first likely to occur after age 30, but it can occur earlier. Other diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity may increase the risk for developing kidney stones.
You may not have symptoms until a stone moves down from the kidney into one of the ureters. When this happens, symptoms may include:

  • Severe pain in the back, side or groin
  • Blood in the urine
  • Chills and fever
  • Nausea and vomiting

You will need to undergo a physical examination and have your blood and urine tested to check the levels of stone-forming substances such as calcium and uric acid.

To confirm that your symptoms are caused by a kidney stone, you will also need one or more of the following tests: X-ray of your kidneys, CT scan, Kidney ultrasound or Intravenous pyelogram.

Larger stones that cannot be passed naturally will need to be removed. Treatment options include:

  • Laser treatment: The stone is directly visualised with a camera and is broken down into dust
  • Ultrasound (shock-wave lithotripsy): This is also known as shock-wave lithotripsy where focussed ultrasound waves are used to break up the stone
  • Keyhole surgery (Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy): Through a very small cut in the skin, the stone is removed
Further reading:

Info Sheet