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Kidney Stones (cont.)

Kidney Stones in Children

The occurrence of a kidney stone in a child is a relatively rare event. In countries where plants are the main source of protein in the diet, for example Southeast Asia, the Middle East, India, and Eastern Europe, the frequency of kidney stone disease in children rises. In developing countries, kidney stones made of uric acid are more commonly found.

Symptoms of kidney stones in children are similar to those in an adult, although with very young children or infants, the symptoms may be harder to appreciate and understand. The initial finding in an infant may be a crying and inconsolable baby, and the presentation may be mistaken for colic.

What Are Staghorn Calculi?

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.

What Are the Symptoms and Signs of Kidney Stones?

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.
  • If an infection is present along with a kidney stone, fever, and chills may occur.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/19/2016

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