Kidney stones are solid deposits of minerals and acid salts that build up inside the kidneys. Kidney stones are relatively common, hospitalizing more than one million Americans each year. Approximately 10 percent of people in the United States will have a kidney stone sometime in their life.
Our urology specialists focus on the medical management of kidney stones for patients that require metabolic evaluations for recurring kidney stones. When surgical treatment is necessary, we provide the most advanced technological options in order to remove kidney stones.
Better diagnosis, treatments and prevention mean quick recovery and fewer repeat episodes. Urology specialists at MedStar Washington Hospital Center utilize new technologies when managing kidney stones. Imaging studies help doctors diagnose stones quickly and reliably, before kidney damage happens. Minimally invasive surgery options are effective and are often performed as an outpatient procedure.
Symptoms may include:
- Sudden, severe, excruciating pain in the flank (one side of the body between upper belly area and back) or mid-back area (This is due to the stone moving within the urinary tract)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain on the side or back that can radiate down towards the pelvis or the groin
- Abnormal urine color or appearance
- Loss of appetite
If fever or chills are present with any of these symptoms, this may indicate an infection. In this case, see your doctor immediately.
At the Hospital Center, our urology specialists offer both surgical and non-surgical management of urinary calculus disease, the condition that leads to the formation of kidney stones. Our specialists employ several non-invasive techniques, depending on the size, location and number of stones present.
Noninvasive techniques include:
Laser Lithotripsy or Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy (ESWL)
Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy does not require an incision and is the most frequently used noninvasive technique for the removal of kidney stones. This procedure uses shock waves to break up the stones into smaller, sand-like fragments which can then be passed on their own.
Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL)
Percutaneous nephrolithotomy is recommended when the kidney stone is too large to pass or is located in a place in the urinary tract that may not allow for effective extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL) results. A small incision or puncture is made in the back through which kidney stones can be removed. This procedure is suitable for kidney stones when they are located in the pelvic region.
Ureteroscopy is a procedure that uses a small telescope (ureteroscope) to remove the kidney stones. During this procedure, the ureteroscope is inserted through the urethra, without an incision, and into the bladder, ureter and kidney. The stone is then removed via a cage-like instrument or shattered with a holmium laser. Unlike ESWL and PCNL, ureteroscopy can be performed on patients who use blood thinners. Large stones (>2cm) may be treated as well. However, this may require more than one procedure.
Working With Patients to Prevent Kidney Stones
Our specialists believe in treating the root cause of any condition. After removal of the kidney stones, our specialists offer a comprehensive medical evaluation to help patients define the causes of their kidney stone formation in order to help prevent recurrences.
Prevention is an important aspect of treatment. For this reason, our specialists prioritize discussing dietary advice in order to help prevent the growth of or recurrence of kidney stones.