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Kidney Stones (cont.)

What Is the Follow-up for Kidney Stones?

  • For the first-time kidney stone patient, there should be an attempt to catch the stone by straining the urine, so that it can be sent for analysis. Also, blood tests and a 24-hour urine collection may be done to try to determine a cause for the stone formation. While most stones are made of calcium oxalate, stones can also consist of other chemicals. It may be possible to prevent future stone formation by taking medications.
  • Drinking plenty of water will help push the stone down the ureter to the bladder and hasten its elimination.
  • A follow-up visit with a urologist may be arranged one to two weeks after the initial visit, allowing the stone to pass on its own.
  • Patients should call their physician or return to the emergency department if the pain medication is not working to control the pain, if there is persistent vomiting, or if a fever occurs.

How to Prevent Kidney Stones

  • While kidney stones and renal colic cannot always be prevented, the risk of forming a stone can be minimized by avoiding dehydration. Keeping the urine dilute will not allow the chemical crystals to come out of solution and form the beginning nidus of a stone. Making certain that the urine remains clear and not concentrated (dark yellow) will help minimize stone formation.
  • Medication may be prescribed for certain types of stones, and compliance with taking the medication is a must to reduce the risk of future episodes.
  • Some home remedies to prevent kidney stones may or may not work. While cranberry juice may protect against urinary tract infections and decrease the risk of struvite stones, its properties increase the risk of forming the more common oxalate and uric acid stones. Apple juice contains oxalate and may increase the risk of stone formation. Lemonade or lemon juice can help prevent kidney stone formation.

Kidney Stone Prognosis

Once a patient has passed a stone, there is a great likelihood that another stone will be passed in his or her lifetime. Since kidney stones may also be hereditary, this likelihood is passed on to the next generation. A patient who has experienced a stone is unlikely to forget the experience and often will arrive at the health-care facility already knowing the diagnosis. Those with recurrent stones may be given medication to keep at home should symptoms recur.

Medically reviewed by Michael Wolff, MD; American Board of Urology


Wolfson, A.B. Harwood-Nuss' Clinical Practice of Emergency Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2005.

Last Reviewed 11/21/2017

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