Aside from treating kidney cancers, urologists primarily diagnose and treat problems associated with kidney stones. Kidney stones are small, rock-like pieces (usually of calcium or acid salts) that form in the kidney. Although kidney stones can be caused by many things, they are often caused when urine is highly concentrated, allowing the minerals to crystallize and clump together. Often, patients feel no discomfort with kidney stones until the move into the ureter. As a stone moves into the ureter, it can be painful and cause blood in the urine, nausea and vomiting. Often with smaller stones, the stone will move down the ureter and be “passed” from the body with urination. Doctors often advise patients to increase water intake when attempting to pass a stone (2-3 liters per day).
Certain diets, Obesity, genetics, and digestive issues or surgeries.
A kidney stone that moves down the ureter is called a ureteral stone. Ureteral stones are small, rock-like pieces that enter the ureter from the kidney. Over time, these stones become larger and may become lodged in the ureter, possibly blocking urine flow. Ureteral stones can be very painful and may need to be treated.
Bladder stones are small, rock-like deposits that form in your bladder. When urine becomes too concentrated, minerals will build up and form a stone. Bladder stones may pass with urination, but often they will need to be removed by your physician.
With larger stones, often treatment is necessary and can be performed using either extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) or an endoscopic procedure. In ESWL treatments, your physician will use sound waves to create vibrations to fragment the stones into smaller pieces.
For the endscopic procedure, your doctor will insert a thin tool called a ureteroscope (equip with a camera) into the urethra to locate the stone. After the stone is located, small tools will be inserted to break the stone into small enough pieces to pass.