According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), roughly 1 person in 10 develops kidney stones during their lifetime and renal stone disease accounts for 7-10 of every 1000 hospital admissions. Kidney stones are most prevalent in patients between the ages of 30 and 45, with men affected three times more often than women. Overall incidence declines after age 50, but it can occur at any age.
The treatment can range from:
- Conservative Treatment – This involves watchful waiting to try to pass the stone on your own. In general, stones smaller than 5 mm have a greater chance of passing.
- Stone Extraction – This is usually done in the hospital where a tiny instrument is passed through your normal channels to the stone and the stone is extracted with or without the use of lasers to break up the stone.
- Lithotripsy – Shock waves passed through the skin directed to the stone to make it fragment to sand like particles. You still have to pass the fragments.
- Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL) – A dime size hole is made from the skin directly into the kidney. Through this channel, large kidney stones can be broken down by ultrasound and taken out using special instruments. This procedure can be challenging and needs experience. I have been doing this for 20 years with good results.
Other more invasive surgeries are available for more difficult stones.
For recurrent stone formers, it is useful to do specialized diagnostic tests using 24 hour urine collections. This provides more detailed information on what may be causing the kidney stones.
Changes in lifestyle are very useful for stone prevention. The office has guidelines for stone prevention.