Kidney Stones

KBU has one of the most advanced Stone Centers in the U.S – offering the latest treatments, including the newest lithotripsy technology.

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What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are made of salts and minerals in the urine that stick together to form small "pebbles." They can be as small as grains of sand or as large as golf balls. They may stay in your kidneys or travel out of your body through the urinary tract. The urinary tract is the system that makes urine and carries it out of your body. It includes your bladder and kidneys and the tubes that connect them (ureters). When a stone travels through a ureter, it may cause no pain, or it may cause great pain, nausea, vomitting and other symptoms.

What causes kidney stones?

Kidney stones form when the normal balance of water, salts, minerals and other things found in urine changes. This can happen if you do not get enough fluids dehydration or if you eat foods high in oxalate, such as dark green vegetables. Kidney stones may also be an inherited disease. If other people in your family have had them, you may have them too.

What are the symptoms?

Kidney stones usually don't cause pain while they are in the kidneys, but they can cause sudden, severe pain as they travel from the kidneys to the bladder. Call a doctor right away if you think you have kidney stones. Watch for severe pain in your side, belly, or groin or for urine that looks pink or red. You may also feel sick to your stomach (nausea) and may vomit.

How are kidney stones diagnosed?

You may first find out that you have kidney stones when you see your doctor or go to an emergency room with pain in your belly or side. Your doctor will ask you questions about your pain and lifestyle. He or she will examine you and may do imaging tests such as x-rays or a CT scan to look at your kidneys and urinary tract.

You may need more tests if you have more than one stone or have a family history of stones. To find out the type of stones you have, your doctor may order a blood test and ask you to collect your urine for 24 hours. This can help your doctor find out if you are likely to have more stones in the future.

Kidney stones may not cause any pain. If this is the case, you may learn you have them when your doctor finds them during a test for another disease.

How are they treated?

For most stones, your doctor will suggest increased water intake to help flush them out. You may also need to take pain medicine. You can do this at home.

If a stone is too large to pass on its own, or if it gets stuck in the urinary tract, you may need treatment. This happens in only 1 or 2 out of 10 people with kidney stones.

The most common medical treatment is extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). This uses sound waves to break a kidney stone into small pieces. The bits can pass out of your body in your urine. Other times, a doctor will need to remove the stone or place a small tube in the ureter to keep it open while stones pass.

Will I have kidney stones again?

Once you have had kidney stones, you are likely to have more. You can help prevent them by staying well hydrated and undergoing a comprehensive metabolic evaluation to see if adjustments in your diet are necessary.

Comprehensive Kidney Stone Treatment

Klein & Birns Urology specializes in minimally invasive surgery for the removal of kidney stones. The need for surgery is rare. We use the latest fiber optic telescopes and lasers for the removal of kidney stones. When necessary, most surgeries can be performed on an outpatient basis, or with a one-night hospital stay. Klein & Birns Urology has access to the latest generation shock wave lithotripter to break up large stones.

In addition, after treating the kidney stones, all patients undergo a comprehensive metabolic evaluation to prevent the formation of future stones.

Klein & Birns Comprehensive Kidney Stone Center is proud to offer the latest minimally invasive devices for the treatment of kidney stones including:

Holmium Laser

The Holmium Laser is the newest and most powerful laser for the treatment of kidney stones. Employing fibers as small as 200 microns, this laser is capable of fragmenting even the hardest stones. It is particularly useful for large or impacted stones that have become lodged in the ureter, which is the structure that connects the kidney to the bladder.

Lithoclast Pneumatic Impactor

The Lithoclast Pneumatic Impactor is essentially a jackhammer that is small enough to fit inside a cystoscope or ureteroscope, this instrument can also disintegrate the hardest of stones. It is particularly useful for large bladder or kidney stones making open surgery for these stones unnecessary.

Shockwave Lithotripsy

This powerful tool has been used successfully in millions of patients since the early 1980's. It uses focused shock waves to disintegrate kidney stones. We are fortunate to have the latest generation lithotripter, which does not require submersion into a water bath, and can usually be performed with intravenous sedation, rather than general anesthesia. Almost all patients leave the hospital shortly after treatment and return to work within a day or two.

Percutaneous Stone Extraction

In this technique, the surgeon makes a one-inch incision in the flank, and uses a telescope to fragment and remove large kidney stones. Most patients stay in the hospital one or two days and return to work shortly thereafter. It is an excellent technique for large stones or those in the lower pole of the kidney.

Metabolic Evaluation

All stones that are removed are sent for complete analysis, and all patients are offered the opportunity to undergo a comprehensive metabolic evaluation to help prevent further stone development.

At Klein & Birns Urology, our aim is to be the leader in providing the highest quality and most comprehensive urologic care in New York. Find out how Klein & Birns Urology can serve you and your family by calling (212) 744-8700 or by making an appointment.