Kidney stones can be detected using X-Rays or scans to determine their presence and location.

Sometimes intravenous (IV), the injection of fluids into the bloodstream through a vein, will speed up the passage of stones by producing larger volumes of more dilute urine. Taking sodium citrate or sodium bicarbonate can break down the stones and prevent further stone formation by making the urine more alkaline.

If your urologist believes that the stone is too big to pass unaided or is causing an obstruction, you may need surgery to remove it.  This may include:

  • Lithotripsy: also known as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), which breaks up large stones into smaller stones that will pass in the urine. This involves breaking down the stones using high frequency, ultrasound shockwaves. These shockwaves are focussed very accurately onto the stones using X-Ray or ultrasound as a guide.  The stone is then broken into smaller pieces so it can be passed in your urine. Lithotripsy treatment is provided by Consultant Urologists with extensive experience in urinary tract stone disease.
  • Tunnel surgery or percutaneous nephrolithotomy: involves inserting a thin telescopic instrument called a nephroscope through your back into the kidney, the surgeon inserts a surgical instrument and removes the stone.This is performed under general anaesthetic
  • Ureterorenoscopy: while you are under general anaesthetic, a long thin telescope, called a ureteroscope is inserted through the urinary tract to view and then either destroy or gently remove the kidney stone.

Can kidney stones be prevented?

Often, kidney stones will recur in people who have had them before; however, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing kidney stones:

  • Drink more water on a daily basis: at least 2 litres each day.
  • Limit your intake of caffeinated drinks and alcohol, which can be dehydrating.
  • Adjust your diet: if you have had kidney stones removed before, your doctor may have tested them to find out what they were composed of. He or she may then advise you to restrict certain foods from your diet that could cause high levels of certain minerals to be present in your urine.
  • Take any medication as advised by your doctor to help prevent further kidney stones from forming.
  • See your doctor if you notice blood in your urine.
  • Try to collect any stones that you pass so that your doctor can test their composition and treat you accordingly.