(Renal Colic; Renal Lithiasis; Nephrolithiasis; Renal Calculi)
by Diane Savitsky
Kidney stones are formed from crystal-like substance. These stones form inside the kidneys or other parts of the urinary tract.
There are several types of kidney stones:
The cause of your kidney stone depends on the type of stone that you have. For example:
Kidney stones are more common in Caucasian men under 50 years old.
Other factors that may increase the chances of kidney stones:
For calcium oxalate or phosphorus stones:
Uric acid stones:
In many people, kidney stones do not cause symptoms. The stones may pass unnoticed in urine. Other people may have symptoms, including:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
Images may be taken of your kidneys and urinary system. This can be done with:
Treatment will depend on the size and location of your kidney stones. Treatment may include one or more of the following:
Drinking at least 2-3 quarts of water per day can help to flush a small stone. You may need to pee into a special cup to catch the stone. Your doctor may want to test the stone to find out what type it is.
Pain medicine may help with discomfort until the stone passes. Other medicine can help pass the stone.
Surgery may be needed if the stones are:
A stent may be placed for a short time. The stent will help to keep the passage open to allow the stone to pass. It will help if there is too much swelling in the path that the stone has to pass through.
A small tube is passed up into the tract to the stone. The doctor will pass tools through this tube to remove the stone.
This option may treat large stones that are in the kidney. The doctor will pass a scope through a small cut in the lower back. The stones are then broken into smaller pieces and removed.
Lithotomy is an open surgery used to remove stones. The doctor will need a large incision. It is rarely used. Less invasive options have shorter recovery times.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)
ESWL sends shock waves into the body. The impact of the shock waves breaks up the larger stones. The smaller pieces should be able to pass with urine.
Once you have had a kidney stone, you are more likely to have another. To help reduce the chances of another kidney stone:
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Kidney Foundation
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
Kidney stones. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/kidney-stones. Accessed March 8, 2018.
Kidney stones. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated March 8, 2018.
Nephrolithiasis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114904/Nephrolithiasis . Updated February 5, 2018. Accessed March 8, 2018.
Urinary calculi. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/urinary-calculi/urinary-calculi. Updated July 2016. Accessed March 8, 2018.
1/4/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114904/Nephrolithiasis : Hollingsworth JM, Rogers MA, Kaufman SR, et al. Medical therapy to facilitate urinary stone passage: A meta-analysis. Lancet. 2006;368(9542):1171-1179.
1/4/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114904/Nephrolithiasis : Mora B, Giorni E, Dobrovits M, et al. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation: an effective treatment for pain caused by renal colic in emergency care. J Urol. 2006;175(5):1737-1741.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 2/1/2018
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.