Urinary Stones

What Are Urinary Stones?

Urinary stones are pieces of solid material which form in the urine. Many people call them kidney stones, but they can actually occur in any of the organs that handle urine, including the kidneys, the bladder, or the ureters (the tubes which connect the kidneys and the bladder.)  The medical term is nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis.

Urinary stones often run in families.

Why Do Stones Form in the Urinary System?

1. There can be too much of a certain substance in your urine.

There are many substances which can form stones. If you have too much in your urine, the substance can’t stay dissolved, so it forms a stone.

2. A much less common reason is urine infection.

Certain types of bacteria which cause urinary infections also create substances which form into stones.  Urine infections can cause stones, but stones can also become infected.

What Are the Symptoms of Urinary Stones?

Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain when urinating
  • Back, flank or abdominal pain
  • Sand or gravel in the urine

Call your child’s doctor right away if:

  • Your child has severe pain, fever or vomiting.
  • child can’t pass urine.

Call your doctor during regular office hours if:

  • You or your child have other questions or concerns.

How Are Urinary Stones Diagnosed?

First, your child’s doctor will ask you and your child many detailed questions about your child’s symptoms, general health, what he or she eats, and the health of other family members.

Next, he or she will give your child a thorough physical exam, and then examine your child’s urine.  This will give your doctor alot of helpful information.

Based on this information, your doctor will ask for some more tests.

  • Your doctor may want to send the urine to a laboratory to test it for various substances which can cause stones.  Usually, this requires you to save all of the urine produced during a full 24 hours.
  • Your doctor may want to test the urine for infection. This can be done with a urine sample that your child provides in the office today.
  • Your doctor may want to obtain some pictures using x-rays, ultrasound, or a CT scan.  These pictures can help show if there are stones in your child’s urinary organs, or if he or she has any other diseases of these organs.

Your child’s doctor probably will not order all of these tests. Every patient is different, and your doctor will ask for the tests that are best for your child.

If your child passes a stone in his or her urine, it is very helpful to send it to a laboratory to find out what it is made of. Your child’s doctor may give you a strainer to help catch any stones that come out in the urine. If you collect a stone, bring it back to the doctor’s office or lab. You can also mail it in, if you have a special mailing kit.

Once your child’s doctor has completed the tests, he or she will see you again to tell you the results and give you more information.

What Is The Treatment For Urinary Stones?

The most important treatment is to drink lots of water. Drinking water helps prevent stones from forming.  It also helps wash out any tiny stones that form before they get any bigger.

If the laboratory tests show what type of stones your child is having, your child’s doctor may recommend some additional changes in diet or prescribe medication to help prevent stones. It depends on what type of stones your child has.

If your child currently has a stone inside the urinary system, the doctor may refer you to a specialist called a pediatric urologist.

  • If the stone is small, it may go out in the urine without any treatment.
  • The urologist may prescribe l ithotripsy, which uses sound waves to break the stone into smaller pieces which can pass in the urine.
  • The urologist may pass a tiny telescope into the urinary organs to break up or remove the stone.
  • The urologist may need to do surgery to remove the stone.

The urologist will discuss the options and which one he or she thinks is best for your child.