Kidney Stone Diagnosis and Treatment
When you come to the Henry Ford Vattikuti Urology Institute (VUI) for kidney stone treatment, you are in expert hands. Our team of specialists has successfully treated thousands of people with kidney stones, using the most advanced methods possible.
No matter what type of kidney stones you have, we can help.
Kidney stone treatment at Henry Ford: Why choose us?
Although some kidney stones pass painlessly on their own, others are more complex. If you experience kidney stone symptoms, our expert urologists have the skills and knowledge necessary to accurately diagnose and treat your condition.
At Henry Ford VUI, you can expect:
- Highly skilled experts: Our urologists are board-certified and fellowship-trained, with advanced education focused on diagnosing and treating kidney stones. They are nationally recognized for their work, including pioneering many early innovations in kidney stone treatment, and many kidney stone treatment “firsts” in the state of Michigan.
- Collaborative care: Your doctors work as a team alongside experts from other specialties, such as nephrologists, endocrinologists, interventional radiologists and nutritionists. Together, they create a comprehensive care plan to treat current stones and help you prevent future ones.
- Personalized treatment: We tailor our treatment to your specific needs. Thanks to our decades of experience, we can customize our technique to suit your anatomy, type of stone and treatment goals.
- High volume of cases: We successfully treat about 700 people every year for kidney stones. Our high volume of procedures means we have the experience to deliver better results for all our patients.
- Ongoing support: Once you’ve had a kidney stone, you are more likely to form new stones in the future. That’s why we offer nutritional counseling and stone prevention care to all of our patients.
Kidney stone diagnosis
If you experience symptoms of a kidney stone, your urologist will perform tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests may include:
- Urine test: We analyze a sample of your urine to look at levels of chemicals (such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid) that form stones.
- Imaging tests: Determining the exact size, shape and location of a kidney stone is key to deciding on the right treatment. We use X-rays, ultrasound and sometimes computed tomography (CT) scans to collect this important information.
- Blood test: A blood test can reveal if you have an infection that could result in kidney stones. It can also check how well your kidneys are functioning.
Kidney stone treatment
The right treatment for kidney stones depends on many factors. We consider the size, shape, type and location of the stone.
Kidney stone treatment used to involve surgery and weeks of recovery. But thanks to innovations — including some pioneered and perfected by Henry Ford surgeons — we treat most stones with outpatient procedures.
Our urologists work with you to determine the best treatment . Options may include:
- Shock wave lithotripsy : Our urologists performed the first shock wave lithotripsy procedure in Michigan in 1985. Since then, we’ve used this noninvasive technology to successfully treat thousands of patients. A machine sends powerful shock waves into the stones to break them up. You can then pass the pieces out of your body in your urine. Most patients experience only mild discomfort.
- Ureteroscopy: During this minimally invasive procedure, a surgeon inserts a scope into your urethra and bladder, then up through your urinary tract and kidney. This allows us to look at the stones and then either remove them or use a laser to break them apart and remove the pieces.
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL): The urologists at Henry Ford were among the first in Michigan to use this technology. It is now the gold standard for treating large, complex or persistent stones. During this procedure, the surgeon inserts a camera, called a nephroscope, directly into your kidney through a small tube. An ultrasound probe breaks up the stone so that it can be suctioned out.
Kidney stone prevention
If you’ve had at least one kidney stone, you may have up to a 50 percent chance of developing another one within five years. Luckily, there are several diet and lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce your risk of future stones.
Prevention is a key part of our comprehensive kidney stone treatment program. We work with you to create a plan tailored to your needs. Changes that reduce kidney stone recurrence include:
- Drinking more fluids: Taking in plenty of fluids, especially water, increases urine production. This helps prevent chemicals from building up in your urine and forming stones.
- Eating less sodium: Consuming foods with too much salt can decrease urine production and lead to the formation of stones.
- Avoiding sugary drinks: Sugar and high fructose corn syrup (found in sodas and other sweetened drinks) are associated with kidney stone formation.
- Eating less meat: Animal proteins make urine more acidic, leading to uric acid stones. A diet higher in fruits and vegetables makes urine less acidic.
- Consuming more citrates: Citrus fruits contain high levels of citrates, which can help prevent kidney stones.
- Increasing calcium intake and lowering oxalate intake: Calcium oxalate stones result from too little calcium and too much oxalate in your diet. To prevent future stones, you should focus on eating foods rich in calcium (like milk and yogurt). You should also limit those high in oxalates (including nuts and nut butters).
To connect with a urology specialist, call us at (800) 436-7936 or request an appointment.