Kidney stones

The kidneys are responsible for removing waste from the blood. These waste products are then combined, making urine, so urine naturally contains many dissolved minerals and salts. If there isn't enough fluid to form urine, these minerals and salts can clump together and form kidney stones, otherwise known as renal calculi.

Why are kidney stones so problematic?

While kidney stones usually develop in the kidneys, they can also originate in the ureters, bladder or urethra. Although many kidney stones resolve themselves and can be passed, some can become problematic if lodged in the ureter (the tube between the kidney and the bladder). This urinary obstruction then blocks the flow of urine from the kidney and can cause serious damage to the kidneys.

What symptoms can be expected with kidney stones?

Symptoms of a problematic kidney stone or urinary obstruction may include pain in the lower abdomen or groin, blood in the urine, persistent urge to urinate, passing little to no urine, foul-smelling urine, pain when urinating, fever, nausea and vomiting.

How are kidney stones treated?

Treatment of kidney stones will depend on the size of the stone and whether or not it is causing urinary obstruction. Your urologist will be able to assess you and do the necessary tests to diagnose you. Once diagnosed, Dr Mashava will be able to determine the most suitable treatment option for your specific case.

For smaller kidney stones pain medication can be taken while waiting for the stone to pass on its own. For larger stones that cause urinary obstruction, treatment may involve the following types of surgeries:

  • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) is generally needed for larger stones. This involves a small incision being made so that a small telescope-like tool can be used to break up and suction out the fragments of the kidney stone.
  • Ureteroscopy & laser lithotripsy involves a ureteroscope (a thin telescope-like tool being inserted) being inserted into the urinary tract and a laser being used to break the stones down into smaller, passable fragments.
  • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) involves an x-ray, which is used to focus shock waves on the stone, breaking it up so that it can be passed.
  • Open stone surgery is rarely used, but in necessary cases, your urologist may advise it. This involves an incision being made to remove very large kidney stones which have no other way of being removed.


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