Kidney Stones (cont.)
Some stones grow very large and fill the entirety of the kidney collecting system. They are called staghorn calculi (calculus = stone) because they look like antlers. While most kidney stones are made up of calcium oxalate crystals, this type of stone is a composite of struvite, carbonate, and apatite. They are usually the result of recurrent urinary tract infections, in which the bacteria produce ammonia, allowing chemicals in the urine to form the nidus for stone formation.
Kidney Stones Symptoms and Signs
When a tubular structure is blocked in the body, waves of pain occur as the body tries to unblock the obstruction. These waves of pain are called colic. This is opposed to non-colicky type pain, like that associated with appendicitis or pancreatitis, in which movement causes increased pain and the patient tries to hold very still.
- Renal colic (renal is the medical term for things related to the kidney) has a classic presentation when a kidney stone is being passed.
- The pain is intense and comes on suddenly. It may wax and wane, but there is usually a significant underlying ache between the acute spasms of pain.
- It is usually located in the flank or the side of the mid back and may radiate to the groin. Males may complain of pain in the testicle or scrotum.
- The patient cannot find a comfortable position and often writhes or paces with pain.
- Sweating, nausea, and vomiting are common.
- Blood may or may not be visible in the urine because the stone has irritated the kidney or ureter. Blood in the urine (hematuria), however, does not always mean a person has a kidney stone. There may be other reasons for the blood, including kidney and bladder infections, trauma, or tumors. Urinalysis with a microscope may detect blood even if it is not appreciated by the naked eye. Sometimes, if the stone causes complete obstruction, no blood may be found in the urine because it cannot get past the stone.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/2/2015
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