What is an stone?

A stone is a hard, solid lump that can form in the gallbladder, bladder and kidneys. These types of cálculostienen different causes and treated in different ways.

This section discusses the renal and ureteral calculi. These are formed in the kidney and stay there or move to the ureter (Fig. 1).

Kidney stones form when minerals or salts of acidic urine crystallize. Most calculations are expelled during urination. However, sometimes get stuck in the ureter, blocking the normal flow of urine and cause symptoms.Calculations may also be too large to exit the body. In both cases you may need treatment to remove the stone.

Fig. 1: the urinary tract.

What causes kidney stones?

Anyone may develop a kidney stone during their lifetime. Stones can form if there is an imbalance in the way your body produces urine. This may be related to how much you drink and if there are substances in your urine that trigger the formation of stones.

The renal and ureteral stones are very common, but it is difficult to know how many people suffer from this condition in Europe.

A calculation or litho is a hard mass that develops from crystals which are found in urine in the urinary tract. They can be found in the kidney or in the ureter (the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder).

The renal and ureteral stones often pass without any symptoms or discomfort, but this condition can be considered within the most painful experiences known. In the past, it was known as the «disease of Cinderella», as it was a common condition but with little public visibility. Nowadays, people are more likely to form stones by changes in lifestyle and western diet.

Interesting facts

  • Gallstones are common: 1 in 10 people formed a stone at some point.
  • Have a chance to 5-10% of developing stones in your life.
  • Men are more frequent stones than women with a ratio 3 to 1. This difference is perhaps due less to changes in lifestyle and diet.
  • There is more possibility of forming an estimate between 30-50 years.
  • Patients who form stones do more than once in your life.

Are they all the same calculations?

No. There are four main types of calculations.

1. Calculations of some calcium salt:  These are the most common. A normal diet contains calcium, which is necessary for the metabolism of bone, teeth, etc. The removal or excess calcium excretion by the kidneys can lead to the formation of calcium stones (the most common is calcium oxalate).

2. struvite stones:  They usually form after a urinary tract infection caused by certain bacteria able to split the calculations are urea and phosphate salts, ammonium and magnesium.

3. Uric acid stones:  They form in highly acidic urine and excess uric acid in the urine. These patients should eat less meat and increase fluid intake.

4. Cystine stones:  They are in families with a genetic, hereditary disorder that eliminate cystine in the urine, with recurrent stone formation.

What you can do to prevent kidney stones?

Drink plenty of water. Water helps to flush away the substances that form stones in the kidneys. If you’ve had a kidney stone before, talk to your doctor about other ways to prevent further occurrences. There is a test to detect alterations in metabolism (body function) and make preventing new stone formation.

Symptoms of renal and ureteral calculi.

Often renal and ureteral stones are associated with pain. However, symptoms may range from severe pain no pain, depending on the characteristics of the calculation, including the size, shape, and location calculation urinary eltracto (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: the urinary tract.
Fig. 1: the urinary tract.

Severe pain (renal colic)

If the stone blocks the normal flow of urine through the ureter you feel intense pain, known as renal colic. This is a sharp pain in the lower back and the side (the body part from the ribs to the hip). If the stone is in the kidney but not in the ureter, you may feel pain in the groin or thigh. Men may also have pain in the testes (Fig. 2).

Renal colic is caused by a sudden increase in pressure in the urinary tract and in the wall of the ureter. The pain is not constant and does not decrease if you change positions. It is described as one of the most painful experiences like childbirth.

Other symptoms that may accompany renal colic are:

  • Sickness
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in the urine (urine is pink)
  • Painful urination
  • Fever

Renal colic is an emergency and you should contact your family doctor or the nearest hospital for pain relief. In case of high fever, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Fig. 2: Area of ​​possible renal colic pain.
Fig. 2: Area of ​​possible renal colic pain.

Dull pain or no symptoms

Calculations can also cause a dull, recurrent pain in his side. This type of pain can also be a symptom of other diseases, so that will have to perform medical tests to find out if you have kidney or ureteral stones.

Some stones do not cause any discomfort. These are called asymptomatic stones and are usually small. Usually asymptomatic gallstones are discovered during an X-ray or other imaging procedure for other diseases.

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