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Kidney Stones

  • What are Kidney Stones?

    Kidney Stones are urinary disorders that occur when salt/chemicals in the urine form crystals. These stones can then restrict the flow of urine, and lead to serious complications including infection, kidney damage or even kidney failure. Kidney Stones consist of various types of chemicals including calcium, phosphate and oxalate.

    This urinary disorder affects more men than women between the ages of 20−40. Different types of Kidney Stones are composed of different chemicals, and these include:

    • Calcium Oxalate Stones or Calcium Phosphate Stones (most common type)
    • Cystine Stones
    • Struvite Stones
    • Uric Acid Stones
  • A Kidney Stone occurs when:

    • The urine lacks, or has low levels, of the substances that usually inhibit these minerals from sticking together crystallising (sticking together).
    • The urine contains more minerals (calcium, oxalate, phosphate, uric acid or cystine) than it can dilute.
    • There is the presence of other conditions such as cystic kidney diseases, urinary tract infections, and some metabolic disorders.

    In addition, there are various risk factors that can increase your chances of developing kidney stones:

    • Dietary factors include low intake of fluid, high intake of salts, high intake of oxalate-rich foods (e.g. peanuts, almonds, strawberries, tea and coffee), and high intake of purine-rich foods (e.g. organ meats, shellfish)
    • Environmental factors such living in a hot climate, where you sweat excessively and have low fluid intake, which leads to reduced urine volume and increased levels of minerals in the urine
    • Genetic factors including a family history of kidney stones increase your chance of stone formation.
  • The symptoms of Kidney Stones include:

    • Blood in the urine
    • Difficulty urinating if stone is too large
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Pain when passing urine
    • Severe pain in the back and flanks of the abdomen, radiating towards the front and the groin area
  • There are different treatment options available to treat kidney stones. Your doctor will assess your condition and suggest the treatment that best suits you, depending on the size and type of your kidney stone.

    If your kidney stones are small:

    • No treatment is required. With plenty of water, the stones may eventually pass out in the urine
    • Pain killers may be prescribed to alleviate pain during the passing of the stones

    If your kidney stones are large, the following treatment options are available:

    • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) - A non-invasive procedure where shock waves are sent into the body to break down the kidney stones into smaller pieces, which then pass out in the urine over the next few days
    • Medication - Prescribed to help break down the stones. However, this option depends on the type of kidney stones you have.
    • Percutaneous Nephrolithotripsy (PCNL) - A surgery that involves making a small incision in your back to allow a special instrument (nephroscope) to be inserted into the kidney to locate and remove the stones
    • Uretero-Renoscopy (URS) - A surgery where an endoscope is inserted through the urethra, into the bladder and to the kidney to where the stone is positioned. The stones are then broken down and removed.
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