Kidney Stones (or Renal calculi)

Kidney stones can form when crystals aggregate from the waste being filtered by the kidneys. They can be formed from different crystals, and the underlying causes of this varies. For example, calcium oxalate stones form when the concentration of calcium or other minerals is too high in the urine; uric acid stones form if the urine is acidic, as occurs in gout or during chemotherapy; struvite stones tend to develop from infection; and cystine stones form as a result of a genetic disorder that alters the chemical processing of the kidneys. Underlying changes in the urinary tract can contribute to stone formation and addressing these, are an important part of the management of stone disease.

While stones tend to form in the kidneys, they can move and become lodged in any part of the urinary tract, or they can form anywhere along the urinary tract. While these stones may pass spontaneously, they can also become jammed at any point in the urinary tract, and can be associated with pain, infection, bleeding, or interfere with kidney drainage and its filtering function.

Dr Roger Watson has extensive experience in the management of stone disease. Treatment options are tailored depending on the location and type of the stone, as well as the patient’s general health and lifestyle factors. Options for management include medication, or surgical interventions such as telescopic stone retrieval, stone destruction and unblocking of the urinary tract, as well as external shockwave treatment (ESWL). Fragments of stone if available can be analysed to determine their composition and tailor prevention strategies.

Preventing recurrence of stone disease is very important. Once you have had one stone event, you are more likely to have future occurrences. Prevention includes assessment of risk factors, lifestyle modifications and occasionally medications, to reduce the risk of further stones forming.