Kidney Stones (Renal Calculi) - Diagnosis & Treatment

How are kidney stones (renal calculi) diagnosed?

After checking your symptoms and medical history, your doctor will require you to undergo several tests, including:

  • Blood tests. Blood tests are important to check the levels of uric acid or calcium in your blood. The results of your blood test help monitor the health of your kidneys and can help your doctor check other medical conditions.
  • Urine test. This may reveal if you are excreting too few stone-preventing substances or too many stone-forming minerals.
  • Imaging tests. An ultrasound or a computerised tomography (CT) will help detect kidney stones. An ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure that is a common imaging option used to diagnose kidney stones, while a CT scan can detect very small kidney stones.
  • Evaluation of passed stones. You may be asked to urinate through a lab strainer to catch stones that you pass. The stones will be examined in the laboratory and the composition of your kidney stones will be determined. The information will be helpful in finding out the cause of the kidney stones and developing a plan to prevent more kidney stones from forming.

How are kidney stones (renal calculi) treated?

Your doctor will assess your condition and suggest the appropriate treatment for you, depending on the size and type of your kidney stones.

If your kidney stones are small:

  • No treatment is needed. With plenty of water, the stones may eventually pass out in the urine.
  • Painkillers may be prescribed to ease any pain during the passing of the stones.

If your kidney stones are too large to pass on their own:

  • Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. This is a non-invasive procedure where shock waves are sent into the body to break down the kidney stones into smaller pieces, which are then passed out in the urine over the next few days.
  • Medication. You will be given medicines to help expel or prevent the recurrence of certain stones. Specific type of medication depends on the type of kidney stones.
  • Percutaneous nephrolithotripsy. This is a surgical procedure that involves making a small cut in the back to allow a special instrument to locate and remove the stones.
  • Ureterorenoscopy. This is a surgical procedure where an endoscope (thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end) is inserted through the urethra, into the bladder and to the kidney to where the stone is located. The stones are then broken down and removed.

Speak to a specialist to find out the best treatment option for you.

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