The kidneys are fist-sized organs responsible for removing waste from the blood. The kidneys eliminate these waste products through urine. Urine contains many dissolved minerals and salts, but if there isn't enough fluid in the blood, these minerals and salts can clump together and form kidney stones, or renal calculi.

Kidney stones usually develop in the kidneys but can originate in the ureters, bladder or urethra. While many kidney stones resolve themselves and do not cause problems, others can pass through the ureter, the tube between the kidney and the bladder and become lodged. This may cause spasms and irritation of the ureters and even blocking the flow of urine from the kidney. This is known as a urinary obstruction and can cause a kidney infection or damage to the kidney.

Kidney stones are known as one of the most painful conditions, categorised by symptoms of:

  • Severe pain in the groin or side
  • Blood in the urine
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Persistent urge to urinate
  • Reduced amount of urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and chills

What are the treatments for kidney stones?
Treatment of kidney stones will depend on the size of the stone and whether or not it is causing a urinary obstruction. As a urologist, Dr Ridgard will be able to determine the most suitable treatment option for your specific case using diagnostic urine and blood tests for an accurate diagnosis.

For a small kidney stone fluids and pain medication may be advised to allow the stone to pass on its own. For larger kidney stones treatment may involve the following:

  • Shock wave lithotripsy – stones in the kidney or ureter can be located with x-rays and broken into smaller pieces through focused shock waves. Once broken into smaller pieces, these smaller stones can pass through the urinary tract, and out with the urine.
  • Ureteroscopy – for stones in the ureter or kidney, a long thin tube-like tool telescope, called a ureteroscope may be inserted into the bladder, up to the ureter and into the kidney. This tool is then used to break up or remove the stone.
  • Laser lithotripsy - a laser may also be inserted into the ureter and used to break the stones into small pieces to that it can pass out the body with the urine.
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy – for large stones in the kidney, this procedure involves a small incision being made in the back or side so that a tube-like tool can be inserted into the kidney. From there, this tool can be used to break up the stone and suction out the pieces directly.