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Renal Calculi

Definition of Kidney Stones

A kidney stone is the result of a chemical reaction that occurs when the urine becomes concentrated and when certain substances combine together to create an object that is too large to pass in the urine. Calcium oxalate, calcium and ammonium phosphate, uric acid, cystine and other substances (such as calcium carbonate, magnesium, lysine, arginine and ornithine) in the urine crystallize to form a hard mineral deposit called a kidney stone.

Description of Kidney Stones

A kidney stone develops when substances in urine form crystals that stick together and grow in size. In most cases, these crystals are removed from the body by the flow of urine, but they sometimes stick to the lining of the kidney or settle in places where the urine flow fails to carry them away. These crystals may gather and grow into a stone, ranging in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball.

Most stones start in the kidney. Some may travel to other parts of the urinary system, such as the ureter (the tube leading from the kidney to the bladder) or bladder, and grow there. The most common types of kidney stones are calcium stones, uric acid stones, struvite stones and cystine stones.

Calcium stones are formed by a build-up of calcium, combining with oxalate, phosphate or carbonate. Calcium stones account for 75 to 85 percent of all stones and are more likely to occur in men.

Uric acid stones are formed by a build-up of uric acid. Uric acid stones account for 5 to 10 percent of all stones and are more likely to occur in men.

Struvite stones are formed by a build-up of calcium, magnesium and ammonium phosphate. Struvite stones account for 10 to 15 percent of all stones, are mainly found in women, and are linked to chronic infections of the urinary tract.

Cystine stones are formed by a build-up of cystine, combining with lysine, arginine and ornithine. Cystine stones account for 1 percent of all stones and are found in persons suffering from a hereditary disorder called cystinuria. Cystinuria occurs as a result of the kidney tubules not reabsorbing certain amino acids adequately. Cystine stones occurs in both men and women equally.

Causes and Risk Factors of Kidney Stones

The exact cause of kidney stones is unknown, however, there are a number of factors that may put a person "at risk" for kidney stones. The risk factors include:

•  age - more common during middle age
•  gender - three times more common in men than in women
•  diet - eating a diet high in green vegetables, fat, diary products, salt and brewed tea
•  a family hist history of kidney stones
•  recurring urinary tract infections
•  reduced water intake
•  kidney disorders, such as cystic kidney diseases
•  metabolic disturbances, such as bowel, endocrine and kidney problems
•  genetic disorders, such as gout (a type of arthritis or inflammation about a joint caused by excess uric acid in    the blood), cystinuria, primary hyperoxaluria and renal tubular acidosis (a condition in which the kidneys are    unable to excrete normal amounts of acid)
•  excess intake of vitamins C and D
•  blockage of the urinary tract
•  medications, such as diuretics (water pills) or calcium-based antacids
•  bed confinement
•  alcohol consumption

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Kidney stones can form in some people without causing any symptoms, however, some stones may cause the following:

severe pain, which usually starts suddenly and may last from minutes to hours, followed by long periods of relief. Kidney stone pain usually starts in the kidney or lower abdomen and later may move to the groin.

•  nausea and vomiting
•  burning and the urge to pass urine
•  frequent urination
•  cloudy or foul-smelling urine
•  fever
•  chills
•  blood in the urine
•  bloating
•  pus in the urine

Diagnosis of Kidney Stones

The doctor will perform a number of diagnostic tests to diagnose kidney stones. Diagnostic tests include a blood test, a urine test and a 24-hour urine collection test. The 24-hour urine test is done to monitor urine volume, levels of acidity, and if a stone has passed into the sample, the make-up of stone (i.e., calcium-based, uric acid based, etc.) is also determined.

Other diagnostic tests include a kidney-ureter-bladder (KUB) x-ray, a kidney ultrasound, an intravenous pyelogram (IVP) and if recommended, a CAT (CT) scan.

A KUB x-ray involves low doses of electromagnetic energy to produce a picture of the kidney-ureter-bladder area. This x-ray will reveal kidney stones in these areas.

A kidney ultrasound is a diagnostic technique in which high frequency sound waves are passed into the kidney to detect obstructions and changes.

During an IVP, a colorless substance is injected into the vein. This substance circulates to the kidney and is excreted and concentrated, making the area in and around the kidney white. Obstructed and dilated areas will fill with white contrast much slower than normal.

A CT scan involves injecting a dye into the body that infiltrates the kidneys and accentuates the images. Using a series of cross-sectional x-rays, the images, made by the dye, make it possible to detect kidney stones.

NOTE: Homoeopathy treats the disorder effectively and permanently.