Kidney stones have many possible causes, including poor diet and low fluid intake, but some people may be predisposed to formation. Stones are more common in young and middle-aged adults, and a person who develops a stone has a fifty percent chance of forming another one within ten years.
Symptoms of a kidney stone can include intense pain in the back, side, stomach, groin, or genital area; nausea and vomiting; blood in the urine; or painful urination.
In addition to taking your physical history and performing a physical exam, your urologist can perform a number of diagnostic tests to determine the type and location of your stones, including a CT scan, X-ray, ultrasound, or urinalysis.
Depending on the type, size, and location of your stone, treatment options can include simply taking pain medication and increasing fluid intake, to lithotripsy or surgery. Lithotripsy (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy, or ESWL) uses shock waves that pass through your body without harm but which can break up stones. Ureteroscopy involves passing a very thin viewing tool up your urinary tract. Your doctor can then locate the stone for removal or to break it up into smaller pieces.