Having a kidney stone can be a painful experience. Anyone can get one and when you do, you want to see one of our nephrologists as soon as possible.
While not life-threatening, kidney stones may increase your risk for developing chronic kidney disease. Henry Ford nephrologists have years of experience diagnosing and treating kidney stones. We’ll work with you to determine your best treatment option and return you to your normal activities.
To schedule an appointment with a Henry Ford nephrologist, call 313.916.2707.
What is a kidney stone?
A kidney stone often resembles a small yellow or brown pebble with rough or smooth edges. It forms in the kidney, then moves through the urinary tract and out of the body in the urine. Sometimes stones move without causing pain. Other times it can be extremely painful.
What are common symptoms?
- Blood in the urine.
- Pain while urinating.
- Sharp pain in your lower back or lower abdomen.
- Nausea or vomiting.
How is a kidney stone diagnosed and treated?
Your doctor will perform urine and blood tests and an imaging study like an X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan to diagnose your kidney stone. Depending on the size of the stone and whether the stone is causing pain or an obstruction, you may need to see a urologist to treat you. Treatment options include:
- Shock wave lithotripsy- (SWL): The most common procedure. From outside the body, your doctor will aim shock waves at the stone to break it apart into tiny pieces that are small enough to pass through urine.
- Ureteroscopy- (URS): Small telescopes are threaded through the bladder and into the ureter to look at the stones and then either remove them immediately or use a laser to break them apart. The fragments are often collected in a basket for analysis.
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy- (PNL): A needle is inserted into the kidney, then space is made for a special instrument called a nephroscope. The stone is then removed or broken up. Henry Ford was one of the first centers to use this technology, now among the gold standards for treatment.
- Robotic-assisted pyelolithotomy: While it’s not usually needed, we use a robotic system during a minimally invasive surgery to remove larger stones. Our team has extensive robotic-assisted experience.
- Open surgery: Traditional, open surgery is rarely needed but is occasionally the best approach.
- Stents: Sometimes we need to temporarily place a stent (a hollow tube) in the ureter.
To reduce your risk for having another stone, we’ll recommend changes in your diet and fluids. Increasing your urine volume by drinking more fluids is one of the best ways to help prevent most types of stones.
How can I prevent kidney stones from returning?
If you develop another stone or are at risk for doing so, we offer a special metabolic evaluation, in addition to compositional analysis of stones we remove, to prevent the problem from happening again. The evaluation may involve a blood test or urine sample.