What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are solid, harmful masses that develop in the urinary tract. They are formed from salt, minerals that are filtered by the kidney. Those minerals are natrium, calcium, potassium, oxalates, phosphates, and uric acid cysteine.
A healthy person has an acid pH in urine. If it becomes more neutral or basic or the amount of minerals is dysregulated, they crystalize, and stones develop. If this situation lasts a long time, the crystals become bigger, they adhere to urinary tract cells, and there may be difficulty with urine flow.
They may develop in each part of the urinary tract, most often in renal calyxes and renal pelvic, and less frequently in the urinary bladder or urethra
Causes of Kidney Stones
They occur in 1- 3 % of society. The most at risk are people in the age between 30 and 50 age, especially men. During their whole life, it occurs in 10% of men and 5 % of women.
Kidney stones are also most common in the Southern part of the US because of dry heat combined with an inappropriate diet.
Other risk factors are:
Family history of kidney stones inappropriate diet- lack of incoming fluids, a diet rich in meat, rhubarb, spinach, roots, chocolate, nuts, coffee, and tea, comorbidities: hyperactivity of parathyroid glands, infections of the urinary tract, tuberculosis, sarcoidosis, metastases to bones, chronic diarrhea, gout medications: too many supplements of calcium, vitamin C, D, thiazides, sulphonamides, HIV treatment obstacles of urine flow: overgrowth of prostatic gland, narrowing of the urinary tract.
What are available methods of treatment?
Small stones under 1 cm in diameter can pass through the urinary tract naturally. The doctor will order you to drink many fluids. Sometimes muscle relaxation medications and painkillers may be requested to relieve the patient. More giant stones need special operations.
ESWL (Extracorporeal Shock-Wave Lithotripsy) uses a particular machine that generates extracorporeal ultrasound waves. They crush stones into many smaller pieces, which helps them go through naturally.
URSL (Ureterorenoscopic Lithotripsy) is a procedure using a ureterorenoscopy. It is a small tube-like device with a camera. It is put in the urinary tract, and the stone is visualized and localized during the screening. Then it can be removed mechanically or shot with a laser into many smaller released parts.
PCNL (Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy) is a procedure that requires an incision in the pelvic kidney area. A small tube is inserted through this incision. The stone is removed and crushed and then released in smaller parts.