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Division of Urology

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Medical Conditions: Kidney Stones

Kidney stones form from one or more problems; insufficient water intake, excessive salt or animal proteins in the diet, and a deficiency in stone inhibitors produced by the kidney (including citrate and magnesium). They may cause:

  • severe back or abdominal pain
  • blood in the urine
  • frequent urinary tract infections
These symptoms are usually caused by the blockage of the flow of urine from the kidney, or due to infections caused by bacteria, which can hide inside the stones. As many as 90% of kidney stones will pass out in the urine on their own, but in some cases, the stone can cause blockage of the urine flow from the kidney. This can result in the loss of kidney function or severe infection, if untreated, which may lead to death.

There are several different ways of removing kidney stones, the choice of which depending on the size or type of the stone. These include:
  • Lithotripsy
    This involves breaking up the stone into small particles that can pass out through the urine by focusing shock waves onto the kidney stone from outside the body.

  • Surgery
    Passed through the urethra either through tubes or through small incisions in the lower back to break up and remove the stone.
In order to reduce the chance of getting another kidney stone in the future, patients should change their diet to reduce this risk. The kidney stone and urine samples can be analyzed, and risk factors can be identified and preventative measures taken. This is recommended for patients with recurrent kidney stones.

Division of Urology American University of Beirut Medical Center Department of Surgery