Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kidney Stones 101

Here is your introduction to kidney stones. First off, what is a kidney stone?

Kidney stones are crystals that are formed from the urine inside our urinary tracts, if only these crystals have value then having these stones wouldn't be half as bad.

Usually, the body produces chemicals that prevents crystals in the urine from forming, however, it is not always the case.

Now once you've produce you're first kidney stone/stones, you are now officially a bonafide Stone Former -CONGRATULATIONS and welcome to the club!!!

Kidney stones is one of the most painful disease to ever hit mankind. In my own experience I would say that it is more painful than natural child birth.

Kidney Stones is said to be more common in men than women, but who and why a person gets it is still unknown.

Common symptoms of kidney stones are extreme pain in the flanks area, nausea and vomiting, blood in the urine, Urinary tract infections, pain while urinating. To properly diagnose if you are suffering from kidney stone is through ultra sound, xray or ct scan ( CT Stonography)

There are several types of kidney stones,
  • The most common type of stone contains calcium. Calcium is a normal part of a healthy diet.

    Calcium that is not used by the bones and muscles goes to the kidneys. In most people, the kidneys flush out the extra calcium with the rest of the urine. People who have calcium stones keep the calcium in their kidneys.

    The calcium that stays behind joins with other waste products to form a stone. The most common combination is called calcium oxalate.

  • A struvite stone may form after an infection in the urinary system. These stones contain the mineral magnesium and the waste product ammonia.

  • A uric acid stone may form when the urine contains too much acid. If you tend to form uric acid stones, you may need to cut back on the amount of meat you eat.

  • Cystine stones are rare. Cystine is one of the building blocks that make up muscles, nerves, and other parts of the body. Cystine can build up in the urine to form a stone. The disease that causes cystine stones runs in families.

Most kidney stones can pass without your doctors help, if it's small enough and you're not in extreme pain. Stones that are smaller than 3mm can pass with just the help of more water intake, although even tiny stones like this one can cause so much pain, so if you are in pain, some good pain relievers prescribed by your doctor can help you while you wait for your stones to naturally pass.

Some medication may also help dissolve kidney stones to make it smaller and easier to pass.

Larger stones ( 5mm above) may need you to seek a doctor and have procedures done to take them out, and also if you are in extreme pain you may need pain killers given intravenously via IV.

Below are procedures to remove your kidney stones

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is the most frequently used procedure for the treatment of kidney stones. In this procedure, shock waves that are created outside the body travel through the skin and body tissues until they hit the denser stones. The stones break down into small particles and are easily passed through the urinary tract in the urine. It is most desired because it is non evasive and recovery is fast.

Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy
For larger stones or in a location that does not allow effective use of ESWL, this treatment is sometimes recommended.

In this procedure, the surgeon makes a tiny incision in the back and creates a tunnel directly into the kidney. Using an instrument called a nephroscope, the surgeon locates and removes the stone. For large stones, some type of energy probe—ultrasonic or electrohydraulic—may be needed to break the stone into small pieces. Often, patients stay in the hospital for several days and may have a small tube called a nephrostomy tube left in the kidney during the healing process.

Ureteroscopic Stone Removal
Although some stones in the ureters can be treated with ESWL, ureteroscopy may be needed for mid- and lower-ureter stones. No incision is made in this procedure. Instead, the surgeon passes a small fiberoptic instrument called a ureteroscope through the urethra and bladder into the ureter. The surgeon then locates the stone and either removes it with a cage-like device or shatters it with a special instrument that produces a form of shock wave. A small tube or stent may be left in the ureter for a few days to help urine flow. Before fiber optics made ureteroscopy possible, physicians used a similar “blind basket” extraction method. But this technique is rarely used now because of the higher risks of damage to the ureters.

Now the most important information for a stone former is how to prevent it. Honestly, there is not a surefire way of preventing these stones from coming back, science is yet to discover why and how to stop stone formers from forming stones EVER again. The least we can do is to minimized the chances or frequency of getting stones and when we do have a stone AGAIN, that we be able to pass it faster and with less pain and preferably in a less expensive way.

But here is the best stone preventive measures we ought to know, DRINK 3 LITTERS OF WATER EVERY DAY!

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