In brief kidney stones form due to an imbalance between the water content and the concentration of certain chemicals in the urine. When the concentration of these chemicals becomes too high they form crystals. The crystals then propagate into stones.
Kidney stones may cause pain, infection or kidney failure. Kidney stones may fall down into the ureter causing severe acute flank or back pain. The stone may pass by itself or require an operation to remove it depending on its size and location. Stones that cause urinary tract infections require removal, as antibiotics cannot penetrate the stone itself to kill the bacteria that reside in it. Stones that have, or may cause kidney failure usually require removal.
The mainstay of stone prevention is maintaining adequate hydration. This means drinking enough water so the urine is a clear white or yellow color at all times. Episodes of dehydration should be avoided. Reducing salt intake, avoiding excess red meat intake and adding lemon juice to water can all assist in prevuing stones. Further dietary modifications are usually reserved for patients with specific biochemical conditions that lead to kidney stones.
Some stones (uric acid and cysteine) can be prevented by the administration of certain medications. If these types of stones are identified then preventative treatment will be commenced under close observation.
Screening blood and urine tests are done on all first time stone formers. Further tests may be required if an underlying condition is suspected and in some instances referral to a renal physician may be required to guide preventative treatment.
There are many ways that kidney stones can be treated (removed). The choice of treatment depends on many things including: stone size, location and composition; patients medical condition and preferences. The treatments offered by Matthew include:
- Ureteroscopy and Holmium laser
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL)
- Dissolution and medical expulsive therapy
- Laparoscopic pyelolithotomy
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