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Kidney Stones

Since the earliest records of civilization, kidney stones have plagued humans. Kidney stones were even found inside a 7000-year-old Egyptian mummy. Today, kidney stones are still one of the most common problems of the urinary tract. Kidney stones form inside of the kidney where they may or may not cause pain. However, if the stone migrates outside the kidney and down the ureter (the tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder), this is when people begin experiencing the sudden, severe pain associated with kidney stones.

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are crystallized collections of salt and other minerals found in the urine. These substances normally dissolve, but when the urine becomes too saturated, stones can develop. The onset of kidney stone pain is both sudden and severe as the stone becomes stuck on its way out. Most people experience kidney stone pain in their lower abdominal region or the groin. Urinary infrequency or a sense of bladder irritation may also be present. Some people may even experience nausea, fever, or chills and should seek prompt medical attention.

How are kidney stones treated?

Treatment for kidney stones will depend on the type of stone and how long you’ve been experiencing symptoms. Ogden Clinic urologists are well-equipped with several different methods for mitigating the pain associated with kidney stones and assisting with a safe pass.

Passing a kidney stone without surgery

It’s possible to pass a stone on your own without the need for medication. If the pain is bearable and there are no signs of infection, your Ogden Clinic urologist may advise you to pass it on your own. Drinking plenty of fluids and taking over-the-counter pain relievers can assist with a safe pass.

Our urologists also prescribe medication to decrease pain and improve the chance of the stone passing. Tamsulosin (or Flomax®) is the most common medication used for kidney stones; it relaxes the ureter and eases the pain of passing a stone.

Surgical intervention for kidney stones

You and your Ogden Clinic urologist may consider surgery to remove a kidney stone if the stone fails to pass or if the pain of passing is too great. In some cases, the stone may also affect kidney function or cause repeated infections by blocking the flow of urine from the kidney.

Fortunately, surgery is more convenient than ever before; there are no incisions and much less discomfort than in the past. Surgeries to remove kidney stones from the ureter or kidney include:

Shockwave lithotripsy (SWL) : Your Ogden Clinic urologist will use ultrasound shock waves on the kidney stone to break it into smaller pieces. The smaller pieces will pass in the urine over a few weeks with little or no discomfort.

Ureteroscopy: A flexible telescope called a ureteroscope is inserted into the bladder, up the ureter, and into the kidney. When your Ogden Clinic urologist can see the kidney stone through the ureteroscope, they use responsive tools to remove the stone. If the kidney stone is too large, breaking it into smaller pieces may be necessary before extraction.

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) : PCNL is used for large stones in the kidney. Under general anesthesia, an incision is made through the patient’s back to a narrow tunnel that is created through the kidney to the stone. An Ogden Clinic urologist will locate the kidney stone and remove it with a slender instrument inserted through the tunnel.

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