Kidney Stones: Symptoms and Causes | Tampa General Hospital

Kidney Stones 

Kidney stones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball, with the average kidney stone comparable to the size of a pea. Most kidney stones pass through the urinary tract, but larger stones may require surgery.  

There are various types of kidney stones: 

  • Calcium stones 
  • Cystine stones 
  • Struvite stones 
  • Uric acid stones 

What Causes Kidney Stones? 

Kidney stones are formed from crystals that develop in the kidney. While smaller crystals travel out of the body through the urinary tract without detection, larger stones can get lodged in a ureter, the urethra or even the bladder, blocking urine from passing and causing immense pain. 

You are at a greater risk of having kidney stones if you: 

  • Are white 
  • Are male 
  • Are between the ages of 20 and 40 
  • Have had a kidney stone before 

What Are the Symptoms Associated With Kidney Stones? 

The most common symptoms experienced by individuals with kidney stones include: 

  • Sharp pain in the back, abdomen or groin 
  • Blood in the urine 
  • Vomiting 
  • Odorous urine 
  • An incessant urge to urinate 
  • A burning sensation while urinating 
  • Inability to urinate or urinating only in small amounts 
  • Fever 

How Are Kidney Stones Diagnosed? 

Diagnosis of kidney stones begins with discussing your health history with a healthcare provider and undergoing a physical examination. Other tests used in identifying kidney stones include: 

  • Blood tests that determine how well your kidneys are functioning and identify any substances that may be causing kidney stones to develop 
  • CT scan 
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP) 
  • Renal ultrasound 
  • Urinalysis 

How Are Kidney Stones Treated? 

The expert urologists at Tampa General Hospital treat kidney stones with a patient-centric approach. Treatment options may include: 

  • Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) that involves sending shock waves to the kidney stone to break the stone into smaller pieces, allowing it to pass in the urinary tract 
  • Tunnel surgery that involves a small incision on the back allowing for the removal of the stone through the skin 
  • A ureteroscope that is inserted through the urethra to locate the stone, which is then extracted 
  • Potassium citrate tablets that help dissolve calcium and uric acid stones that aren’t blocking the urinary tract