Kidney stones develop from the buildup (crystallization) of salts and minerals within the kidney or bladder. As the crystals enlarge into stones, they may either adhere to the kidney itself or travel to other sites within the urinary tract. In addition to severe, intense pain, kidney stones may cause bleeding, infection and obstruction within the urinary tract.
Patients are referred to the kidney stone clinic by either their urologist or primary care provider to evaluate kidney stone activity and to perform coordinated outpatient lab studies. One or more risk factors may be identified. Diet modification, increased fluid intake and sometimes medications can prevent the recurrence of stone formation.
Patients may succeed in expelling the stone through the urinary tract; however, if the stone is blocking the flow of urine, causing an infection or damaging the kidney, surgery may be required to remove the stone. Referral to an urologist would be indicated to remove or fragment the stone.