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Kidney Stones

Overview

Kidney stones are common and it is estimated that the lifetime incidence of developing a stone is in excess of 10%.  Kidney stones occur when substances in the urine become too concentrated and form crystals which can develop into stones.  The most common type of stone is calcium bound with oxalate and/or phosphate.  Other stones include uric acid, struvite (infectious), cystine, and other more rare compositions. 

There are many risk factors for urinary stone disease but the most common contributing factor is likely dehydration.  The less urine that is produced increases the chance that crystals are produced from stone-forming materials.  Other risk factors include diet, family history of stones, bowel disorders, obesity, and occupation.  Diets that are high in animal protein, salt, or oxalate-rich foods (green leafy vegetables, nuts, tea, chocolate) may increase the risk of stone formation.  Some bowel disorders include inflammatory bowel disease, malabsorption, chronic diarrhea, and those undergoing gastric bypass procedures. 

Stones become a clinical problem when they become large enough to prevent drainage of urine from the kidney to the bladder. Occasionally, kidney stones can be a source of bacteria, causing recurrent urinary tract infections.



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