Urology of Greater Atlanta

Identifying The Different Types Of Kidney Stones

A urologist in Atlanta, GA helping to identify the different types of kidney stones.

If you have had a kidney stone in the past, you know how painful it can be, and you probably hope that you never develop more kidney stones. Or maybe you are just starting to feel some discomfort and remembered that someone in your family had a kidney stone in the past.

Whichever the case, our experts at Urology of Greater Atlanta can help! All our doctors are board-certified and dedicated to providing the highest quality of care.

For your convenience, we have multiple offices and a surgical center located throughout Georgia. Schedule an appointment with us today!

What Are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones (also called renal calculi) are small, hard deposits that form in the kidneys and are made of minerals and salts. They can cause severe kidney pain as they travel through the urinary tract when being passed out of the body.

What Causes Kidney Stones to Form?​

Kidney stones form when there is a buildup of certain minerals and salts in the urine that can’t be flushed out, causing particles to accumulate and form solid masses. Factors contributing to kidney stone formation can include:

  • Genetics (family history)
  • Dehydration
  • Diet
  • Having gastric bypass surgery
  • Having inflammatory bowel disease can cause changes in your digestive process, increasing the amounts of stone-forming substances in your urine.

Certain medical conditions, such as repeated urinary tract infections, renal tubular acidosis, and cystinuria, can also increase your risk of kidney stones.


How Can I Identify Which Type of Kidney Stone I Have?

Determining what kind of stone you have can be quite challenging without a doctor’s help. A trained doctor would be able to perform various diagnostic imaging tests to identify the type of stone.

Various Types of Kidney Stones​

There are several types of kidney stones that can form in the urinary system. You will find a detailed list of the different types below.

Calcium Stones

Calcium kidney stones, also known as calcium oxalate stones and calcium phosphate stones, are the most common stones. Calcium stones form when calcium and oxalate crystals accumulate in the kidneys. Hyperparathyroidism can also lead to high levels of calcium in your body resulting in calcium stones.

Uric Acid Stones

Developing a uric acid stone is also fairly common. A uric acid stone can form when you have high uric acid levels in your urine. Uric acid stones tend to develop in those who do not drink enough water or have diets that contain high animal protein. Uric acid stones are more commonly found in men.

Struvite Stones

Struvite stones are also known as magnesium ammonium phosphate or infection stones. Struvite stones form because of a urinary tract infection. If left untreated, struvite stones could lead to loss of kidney function. These could include Staghorn kidney stones.

Cystine Stones

Cystine stones are rare and are caused by an inherited disorder that affects the way the kidneys process certain amino acids.

A doctor performing ultrasound on patient with kidney pain.

Which Types of Kidney Stones Are Easiest to Prevent?​

Prevention measures can vary depending on the type of stone. However, calcium oxalate kidney stones, being the most common type, are generally more preventable than other types of kidney stones.

Dietary changes and increased fluid intake can help reduce the risk of calcium oxalate stone formation. Avoiding high oxalate foods, as well as limiting consumption of animal protein, too much salt, and sugar, can also help prevent future stones.

Consulting with a doctor to determine what the appropriate calcium intake level is for your body would be beneficial because reducing your intake too much can increase the risk of developing kidney stones.

It’s important to note that the prevention strategies should be tailored to the specific type of kidney stone.

What Treatments Are Available for Kidney Stones?​

There are several treatments available for kidney stones, depending on the size, location, and composition of the stone.

For most kidney stones that are small in nature, drinking plenty of fluids and waiting for the stone to pass on its own may be sufficient. Pain medication can be prescribed to help manage any discomfort during the waiting period.

For very large stones or those that do not pass on their own, medical treatment may be necessary. Some common treatments include:

  1. Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)
  2. Endoscopic Ureteroscopy With Holmium Laser
  3. Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL)
  4. Open Surgery

Overall, the right treatment plan will depend on your individual needs and the specific characteristics of the kidney stone.

If you are experiencing pain and suspect it may be from kidney stones, schedule an appointment at one of our many Urology of Greater Atlanta locations in Georgia today to identify the type of kidney stone and get proper treatment!

Stockbridge, Country Club Drive

290 Country Club Drive Suite 100, Stockbridge, GA 30281

Blue Ridge, Blue Ridge Drive

4799 Blue Ridge Drive Suite 107, Blue Ridge, GA 30513

Sandy Springs

1100 Lake Hearn Drive NE STE 320
Atlanta, GA 30342

Griffin, West College Street

230 West College Street Bldg. C, Griffin, GA 30224

Spivey Station

7823 Spivey Station Blvd Suite 210, Jonesboro, GA 30236


4143 Hospital Drive NE Covington, GA 30014