Kidney stones are also called renal calculi, nephrolithiasis, or urolithiasis. They are usually the hard deposits that contain salts and minerals. They are hard to pass through urine. There are various types of kidney stones:
- Calcium Stones: These are the most common type of stones found. They are in the form of calcium oxalate. This substance is usually found in our daily food habits.
- Struvite Stones: Struvite stones form due to urinary tract infections (UTI). They grow extremely fast and form into a big sized stone.
- Uric acid Stones: Uric acid stones are reported in people who have diarrhea and water loss. It is also reported in people with diabetes.
- Cystine Stones: Cystine stones are usually reported in people who are diagnosed with hereditary problems. These stones cause the kidneys to excrete a specific amino acid.
The kidney stones do not show any symptoms if it moves around the kidney and ureter. But if the stones block the passage for the urine to pass, this can make the urine to move upwards and can cause symptoms like:
- Sharp or intense pain.
- Pain in the lower abdomen and groin with fluctuating intensity.
- Burning sensation while urinating.
- Nausea and vomiting.
Causes of kidney stones are not limited to a few, as there are various reasons why you can get kidney stones. Dehydration is the most common reason in people for kidney stones. Risk factors of kidney stones include family history, dehydration, digestive treatments and diseases, obesity, following certain diets like high protein diets, and consumption of certain medications and supplements.
Pregnancy can affect kidney stones as pregnant women undergo a lot of physical changes. Pregnant women already with kidney stones can make the situation worse. Later in pregnancy, the uterus may restrict the urinary bladder and the flow of urine. This leads to hydronephrosis. During pregnancy the body tends to handle the calcium less effectively, as a result the calcium build up in the kidneys form calcium kidney stones.
There are various methods to remove the stones. If the stones are small in size, doctors may prescribe a few medications to dissolve the stones. In some cases, you may be asked to drink plenty of water to pass the stones through urine. Now this depends entirely on the condition of the person. For comparatively bigger stones doctors may recommend surgical options as passing them through the urine would not be possible. With the scientific advancements, laser techniques are being used for a minimally invasive surgery.
Prior to the surgery you may be required to follow a few steps asked by the surgeon which include avoiding consumption of a few medications a week prior to the procedure, midnight binge eating may be restricted, drinking plenty of water, and maintaining an empty stomach prior to the procedure. You may need to undergo a few medical tests to ensure your body is healthy to proceed with the surgery.
Holmium laser lithotripsy:
Holmium laser lithotripsy is the most common type of laser treatment used to treat kidney stones. This is an alternate process for Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy. A small fiber is inserted with a camera into the urinary tract via urethra. Anesthesia is provided before the surgery. As the doctor spots the stone, the laser fiber breaks the stones. The stones are then removed with the help of small baskets or any other medical instruments. The remaining small bits are passed through urine. This procedure is done without any incisions, which keep you away from sutures. A stent may be placed in between the kidneys and urethra to ensure the stones are completely removed. The stents are present for about 1 to 4 weeks after which it is removed. The stents are removed using a cystoscope. The procedure may take up to 2 hours to finish. You may experience pain or discomfort in the back. Stents can also cause discomfort.
Laser treatment has comparatively reduced the recovery time as the process is quick and without any sutures. This minimally invasive procedure decreases the chances of getting any infections as there are no open stitches. You may also be discharged in a day’ time. Kidney stones once diagnosed have a history of recurring in most people. But laser treatments have reduced the recurrence rate in people. This procedure also has a high success rate and is very effective in people with multiple stones. People are usually recovered within 24 to 48 hours of surgery. This is an outpatient process.
There are few rare complications related to the laser kidney stone treatment.
- Large amounts of blood passed through the urine.
- Temporary stents moving out of the place.
- Urinary tract injury.
- Additional procedures to the stones that did not pass through urine.
Though these complications do not appear in everybody. Men may experience pain in penis and testicles after the surgery. Ensure to follow proper post-surgery care to avoid complications. Kidney stones when left untreated can lead to kidney infections and can be extremely painful. They can affect the functioning of the kidneys.
How to prevent kidney stones:
It is always possible to prevent the stones even before they affect or even after the recovery. As kidney stones can recur at any point of time preventive measures have to be followed.
Dietary Changes: You may be required to make changes in your diet by avoiding salt content. Fluid intake should be increased. Consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables. In case you have recovered from kidney stones, you may be asked to avoid consumption of cheese, canned foods, salt snacks, and pickles. You may also be recommended to have only a particular amount of calcium in case you have a history of calcium kidney stones which are extremely common and very painful illness associated with extreme pain. It can bring a pause to your daily routine. Always choose a healthy lifestyle and if you experience any sort of symptoms visit a urologist to get the right treatment at the right time.