A kidney stone is a solid concretion of minerals that forms in a kidney. Kidney stones vary in size and may stay in the kidney or travel down the urinary tract. Urinary stone disease is one of the most common urological conditions in the United States and throughout the world.
When substances in the urine—such as calcium, oxalate, and phosphorus—become highly concentrated, kidney stones can form. People who do not drink enough fluids may also be at higher risk, as their urine is more concentrated. Kidney stones often do not have one specific cause, although some factors may increase your risk.
Identifying the type of kidney stone can help determine the cause and treatment protocol, as well as how to best reduce your risk of getting future kidney stones.
Kidney stones are common. According to the most recent data from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, about 11% of men and 7% of women in the United States have kidney stones at least once during their lifetime. Once you have a kidney stone, you are also more likely to develop future kidney stones.
Risk factors include:
People with kidney stones may not experience symptoms until the stone moves from the kidney into your ureter (the tube connecting your kidney and bladder), at which point you may experience one or more of these symptoms:
Symptoms are often unrelated to stone size. The smallest stones can cause the most discomfort, while large stones may sit quietly in the kidney causing only a dull ache.
Diagnosing a kidney stone requires a detailed history, physical exam, and diagnostic imaging. The current gold imaging modality is a non-contrast CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis. At UCLA Urology, we offer state-of-the-art low-dose CT imaging to minimize radiation exposure for our patients. Once a stone is detected, size and location are key determinants of the most appropriate management options.
UCLA Urologist and kidney stone specialist Dr. Kymora Scotland talks about who forms kidney stones, why kidney stones cause pain, and what to expect when passing a stone. Watch >
For an appointment with a kidney stone specialist, please call 310-794-7700.