Kidney stones are a painful condition that occurs when chemicals in your urine form crystals that bind together. These crystals make hard, stone-like pieces that can block the flow of urine and be hard to pass when peeing.
Contact the UPMC Urology Department to make an appointment.
Kidney stones are common. They form in the kidneys and may move through the urinary tract.
Men are more likely than women to get kidney stones.
You're at greater risk if someone in your family has kidney stones or if you've had them before.
Your kidneys are part of your urinary tract. These fist-sized organs sit below your rib cage on either side of your spine.
Your kidneys act as filters that remove waste from your body.
After your kidneys filter your blood, excess water and chemicals make a liquid waste product called urine or pee. Pee moves through your urinary tract constantly.
Besides the kidneys, the urinary tract includes your:
Kidney stones form when the chemicals in your pee make crystals that join and form a hard, stone-like piece.
Different chemicals cause different types of stones:
The foods you eat and the liquids you drink can increase your risk of getting certain kidney stones.
Kidney stones can form when you consume too much:
Kidney stones can also occur if you're dehydrated. To prevent dehydration:
You may have a higher risk of kidney stones if someone in your family has them.
You may also be more likely to get kidney stones if you have:
After you get one kidney stone, you're more likely to get another. Kidney stones may make you more likely to develop chronic kidney disease.
Left untreated, kidney stones can cause pain and infection, especially if you can't pass the stone when peeing. This can increase your chances of having blood in your urine.
You can reduce your risk of kidney stones by:
Talk to your doctor about your risk of kidney stones.
To make an appointment, contact a UPMC urologist near you.
Kidney stone symptoms mostly depend on how big the stone is.
You could have a kidney stone that is tiny and causes few symptoms. But you might have a much larger stone that causes more noticeable symptoms.
Kidney stone symptoms can include:
Talk to your doctor if you have any symptoms of kidney stones.
Seek care right away if you:
UPMC urologists talk with you about your medical history and any family history of kidney stones. They'll also do a physical exam.
Your doctor may order tests such as:
Your doctor may ask you to pee through a strainer. If you pass a stone, doctors will analyze it to learn about the chemicals that caused it.
This helps them form a plan to help you from getting kidney stones again.
Your doctor will use what they learn about the size, location, and type of kidney stones to treat you.
If stones are small, they may have you drink a lot of water to help you pass the stone while peeing. They may also ask you to collect any stones you pass to learn more about them.
Larger kidney stones may require treatment.
ESWL is a noninvasive treatment that directs shock waves through your skin to the kidney stone. The waves break the stone into sand-like particles that pass easily through the urinary tract.
During ureteroscopy, doctors insert a thin scope with a light into your urethra. They use a basket device to collect the stone.
They may use a laser to break stones into smaller pieces for collection or so you can pass them.
Surgeons use percutaneous nephrolithotomy to retrieve larger kidney stones or those that are hard to reach. They make a tiny incision in your back and insert a tube-like instrument to retrieve stones.
Your doctor may prescribe drugs to reduce stone-forming chemicals in your blood and urine.
Your doctor will suggest lifestyle changes based on the type of kidney stones you've had. Ask them for a list of foods you should avoid.
Your doctor may tell you to:
Our experts provide specialty care for all types of kidney stones. We lead research to find new and better ways to treat and manage kidney disease.
Contact the UPMC Urology Department at 412-692-4100.