Kidney stones -
a REAL pain in the back
We actually live in the “Stone Belt”- kidney stones are most common in the Southeastern United States compared with other U.S. Regions. While there are many types of kidney stones, most are made up of different types of calcium compositions. Unfortunately, cutting calcium from your diet only prevents stone formation in some uncommon kidney stone patients. In fact, commonly, calcium in your diet actually PREVENTS kidney stone formation.
Did you know periodic visits to the urologist can not only treat kidney stones before they get too big or cause problems like pain, infection, or kidney damage, but can also help prevent stones in the future? We monitor patients with metabolic testing and radiography. Metabolic testing includes a chemical analysis of your stone, your blood, and your urine. Depending on the patient and situation, radiography could mean a kidney ultrasound, KUB X-rays (low-radiation X-rays), IVP (KUB X-rays using IV contrast dye to see the kidney anatomy), or Computed Tomography (CT) Scans.
While a small percentage of kidney stones can be medically dissolved, most require either close observation or surgery depending on whether the stone(s) is causing a blocked kidney, infection, kidney failure, pain, or pain associated with vomiting which can lead to dehydration. Surgery can be as simple as “blasting” the stone with shock waves, called Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL). Another common stone treatment is Ureteroscopy, using a special scope with a laser beam to look into the kidney and break up the stone directly. A less common but possible stone treatment is Percutaneous Nephrostolithotripsy, looking directly into your kidney with a scope through a tiny incision in your back. Nowadays we rarely need to make big incisions to remove kidney stones because technology allows urologists to perform almost all treatments “Minimally-Invasive.”
In summary, if you have ever formed a kidney stone, you should do periodic check-ups with your urologist to help prevent potentially-disastrous problems in the future. While these check-ups are fast and painless, they do require you to take responsibility for your own health by making and keeping up with your appointments with your urologist.
George Jabren, M.D., F.A.C.S.