According to the National Kidney Foundation®, more than half a million people visit emergency rooms every year for kidney stone issues. About one in 10 people will experience this uncomfortable condition at some point during their lives.
The urinary system is an advanced network made up of our kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. These components work together to remove wastes such as calcium, phosphates, oxalate, urate, cystine, and xanthine from the body. Considered the system’s master “chemist,” the kidney flushes the unneeded components out of the body for elimination in the urine.
How Do Kidney Stones Develop?
The systems in our body require balance to run smoothly, and our urinary system is no exception. The dangerous combination of too little liquid with too many solids can cause the urine to become concentrated, and the minerals and salts in it can clump together to form kidney stones.
This condition commonly occurs in people with a family history of the problem, those who are dehydrated, people who are obese, those with certain digestive diseases, and people who eat a diet high in protein, sodium, or sugar. The stones can be painful to pass – but they won’t cause any permanent harm if they’re detected early.
Do I Have a Kidney Stone?
For proper diagnosis, an ultrasound test will offer a clear window into the affected area – pinpointing any stones, as well as other possible signs of blockage.
X-rays and computerized tomography (CT) scans may also be used to determine the size, location, and number of stones. Additionally, your doctor may order blood and urine collections.
How Are Kidney Stones Treated?
Your course of treatment will depend on the size and symptoms of your stone(s). Small stones can be remedied or excreted by increasing your water intake to flush them out, and taking pain relievers and alpha blockers to quell any discomfort and relax the ureter muscles.
Bigger kidney stones, on the other hand, may require more strategic measures. In these cases, Dr. Steinberg often utilizes Extracorporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy® (ESWL), which is the most widely used treatment for kidney stones in the United States. A nonsurgical technique, ESWL harnesses shockwaves outside the body to break up stones into small fragments, which will be more easily eradicated through urination.
Another procedure Dr. Steinberg performs regularly in his practice is ureteroscopy and laser lithotripsy. With the use of anesthesia, a small, flexible telescope is inserted into the patient, and a tiny laser is used to break up and draw out the kidney stone in tiny fragments. While ureteroscopy is technically considered surgery, it is fairly noninvasive since it requires no incisions.
People with irregularly shaped kidneys, or difficult-to-reach stones, may require percutaneous kidney stone surgery. In this procedure, tiny telescopes and a small incision in the patient’s back are used to detect and remove the problematic stones.
Who Can Help with My Kidney Stones?
The Kidney Stone Center at Urology Specialists of Milford offers comprehensive care, including diagnosis, treatment, and preventive methods for those affected by this painful issue. Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg will utilize a variety of diagnostics right in the comfort of his office. Dr. Steinberg even offers the use of a convenient Litholink™ at-home urine collection kit to save you time and trouble.
No matter how dire your situation is, Dr. Steinberg will treat you with the utmost respect and care. Many kidney stone treatments offered today are quick and seamless, so there’s no need to suffer.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment with Urology Specialists of Milford, call our office today at (508) 473-6333 or request an appointment here. We look forward to serving you and helping you feel as good as new again.