Procedure for Kidney Stones Removal


Kidney stones (renal calculi) are abnormal hard accumulations of minerals and salts in the kidneys. Kidney stones are synonymously called renal calculi and the medical condition is known as nephrolithiasis.

What Causes Kidney Stones?

  • These are a few of the causes of kidney stones: Heredity (40%): Conditions being enzyme deficiencies or abnormal mineral metabolism:
    1. Hypercalciuria: Excessive calcium in urine.
    2. Hypocitraturia: Deficiency of citrate in urine.
    3. Primary hyperoxaluria: Increased oxalate levels in the body.
    4. Cystinuria: Cystine (a protein) excreted excessively in urine.
  • Dietary causes include diet rich in Vitamin C or D, Calcium, other minerals, uric acid, and with the prolonged use of certain medications like diuretics or antacids. Examples of foods that cause kidney stones are:
    1. Spinach.
    2. Rhubarb.
    3. Tea.
    4. Wheat bran.
    5. Chocolate.
    6. Peanuts.
    7. Colas.
    8. Animal protein.
    9. Recent studies show some correlation between high sugar intake and calcium kidney stones.
    10. Beetroots
  • Recurrent or prolonged urinary infections.
  • Excessive fluid loss (dehydration) for longer periods.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.

Types of Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are of the following types:

  1. Calcium stones: Are the commonest types of renal stones and account for 80% of all the kidney stones.
  2. Uric acid stones: Are more common in men.
  3. Struvite stones: Are more common in women.
  4. Cystine stones: Are rare types of kidney stones.

Kidney Stone Symptoms

  • Generally the patients might remain asymptomatic for years.
  • Symptoms begin when the stones start to mobilize leading to agonizing and excruciating kidney stone pain.
  • Typical kidney pain because of stones is at the sides (flank pain) or at the back below the ribs and may radiate to the groin.
  • Urinary symptoms include:
    1. Burning or painful urination.
    2. Foul smelling urine if there is an infection, associated with pus in the urine causing the cloudy appearance of the urine.
    3. Blood in urine.
    4. Increased urinary frequency for small amounts of urine.
  • Associated symptoms may be fever and chills and nausea and vomiting.

How to Prevent Kidney Stones?

As prevention is better than cure; follow some of the prevention tips:

  1. Be well hydrated: Drinking about eight glasses of water in a day keeps urine less concentrated.
  2. Foods rich in calcium reduce movement of calcium from bones to blood hence lowering the risk of calcium stones.
  3. Less salt and sodium (canned food) intake reduces calcium in urine.
  4. Avoid foods rich is oxalate such as spinach, rhubarb, beets, etc.
  5. Avoid foods that accelerate the process of formation of kidney stones (list given above).
  6. Vitamin supplements (C and D) and medications (steroids, anticonvulsants, diuretics) to be taken under medical supervision.

How to Get Rid of Kidney Stones?

Kidney stone pain occurs when the stone starts to mobilize.

Smaller stones (= 5mm) pass down the urinary path and are flushed out normally.

Drinking about 2-3 liters of water; medications for pain management can be helpful.

Procedure to remove Kidney Stones: surgical interventions are required for larger kidney stones removal. They are:

  • Less invasive kidney stone removal surgeries are:
    1. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy: High frequency sound waves are beamed at the stone site under the guidance of an X ray machine. The waves break down the stones which ultimately pass out. Patient is discharged on the same day.
    2. Ureteroscopy: An ureteroscope (a small telescope) is passed up the ureter and into the kidney locating the stones and picking them up in a basket like device. Done under general anesthesia the patient is discharged on the same day.
    3. Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy: Under general anesthesia a half an inch incision on the back is taken and a rigid telescope is passed into the kidney till the stone is located; further the stone is broken which passes through the urinary path.
  • More invasive is the open surgery when all of the above kidney stone removal treatment options fail or are not recommended.

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