Kidney Stones

​Kidney stones are small, solid masses of minerals and acid salts, that form inside the kidneys.
The function of the kidneys is to remove excess fluids and waste products from the blood and expel it from the body through the urinary tract. At times, these substances, become concentrated in the urine (due to lowered fluid in the urine to help them dissolve) and form crystals. These crystals then turn into stones after a few weeks or months. They can range in size from a quarter of an inch to several inches. Small stones are easier to pass through the urinary tract and out of the body with almost no pain while larger stones can cause a lot pain, blockage in the flow of urine and blood in urine.
Kidney stones are relatively uncommon in children as compared to adults, but the number of cases is rising.  Kidney stones can develop in children due to underlying medical diseases but sometimes they occur due to unknown reasons. Risk factors associated with kidney stones include:

  • Low intake of fluids

  • Unhealthy diet and lifestyle

  • Family history of stones​​

Symptoms can vary depending on the position of the stone. Stones that are still present in the kidney often cause no symptoms. Signs and symptoms develop when the stones move into the ureter (tube connecting kidney and bladder), causing urinary obstruction. These include:​

  • Pain in the abdomen, back and groin

  • Blood in the urine (haematuria)

  • Frequent urination

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting​​

If you notice even a small amount of blood in your urine, along with pain, see one of our doctors at the Kidney and Bladder Service LIne at The Aga Khan University Hospital.​

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​​

Initially, the doctor may begin by performing a physical examination and discussing the symptoms. You may also be inquired about the family history of stone diseases and if you have suffered from kidney stones previously. For an accurate diagnosis and to gather information about the size, location and number of stones, the doctor may recommend the following tests:

  • Complete blood count (CBC): One or more parameters related to red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets might be affected in this condition, giving a clue towards etiology and further diagnostic approach. Therefore, it is an ancillary test in the diagnostic workup of this disease.
  • X-ray of the abdomen 

  • Renal Bladder Ultrasound (RBUS), in which sound waves and a sensor is used to create an image of the kidneys, ureters and the bladder on the computer to be studied by the doctor.

  • Abdominal or Pelvic Computerized Tomography (CT) scan  in which numerous X-ray images are combined to generate a cross-sectional view of the organs​​.

Disclaimer: Kindly consult your physician before getting the above-mentioned tests.

Treatment options will depend on the size, number and location of the stones along with whether they are causing pain or blocking the urinary tract. Small stones which are less than 3 millimetres in size are often left untreated as they are painless and harmless. Larger stones are more dangerous as they can move into the ureter and obstruct the flow of urine.  Hence they are removed using certain treatments including:

  • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) in which a special machine called a “lithotripter” is used to send shock waves to a particular point, in your body, where the stone is located. As many as thousand shock waves are applied over a period of an hour that breaks the stone into small fragments. These fragments then pass out of the body in the urine. The procedure requires you to remain still hence general anaesthesia is used.

  • Ureteroscopy in which a small scope, carrying a tiny digital camera, is passed through the urethra (the tube connecting the bladder to the outside of the body) into the bladder and from there through the ureter(s) (the tubes connecting the bladder to the kidneys) into the kidney(s) to view the stones and remove them using specialized instruments. This procedure is also performed under general anaesthesia.

  • Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PNCL) in which a needle is passed through the skin into the kidneys, using ultrasound or X-ray as guidance. An instrument is passed into the kidney to examine, break and remove the stone. This procedure is used to treat large stone and is done under general anaesthesia ​​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​​

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.