Diagnosing Kidney Stones

Kidney stones form when mineral deposits in the kidneys stick together. As these stones move from the kidneys into the urinary tract, they irritate the organs they pass through, often causing significant pain. If you experience sharp pain in the back or side, pain or difficulty during urination,and/ or discolored urine, it is important to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

The first step to diagnosing kidney stones is communicating with your doctor about your symptoms. If your doctor believes your symptoms may be caused by kidney stones, she will likely order some tests to ensure a correct diagnosis. Some of these diagnostic tests may include:

  • Blood Tests – If your blood tests reveal too much calcium or uric acid in your blood, you may be at an increased likelihood of developing kidney stones.

  • Urine Tests – One of the most effective urine tests in the diagnosis of kidney stones is a 24-hour collection test, in which the patient performs two urine collections during two consecutive days. This urine is then analyzed to determine if chemicals and minerals are in a healthy balance. An imbalance may indicate the presence of kidney stones.

  • Imaging Tests – Many imaging tests, including X-rays, ultrasounds, or CTs, may reveal the presence of kidney stones.

Once a kidney stone has been passed, your doctor may wish to analyze the stone itself. This may help identify the type of stone, which may help the patient make the lifestyle choices needed to prevent the development of future kidney stones.

Once kidney stones have been diagnosed, your doctor will help you determine if any intervention is needed to help you pass the stones, and if so, what the most beneficial form of intervention may be. Your doctor will also discuss pain management options with you.


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