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Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones Treatment in Santa Ana, California

Kidney stones are also known as calculi (plural), or calculus (singular).  When it is in the kidney, it is a renal calculus.  The tube draining the kidney to the bladder is the ureter, and a stone in the ureter is a ureteral calculus.

It is estimated that 20% of us will have a kidney stone in our lifetime.  Of those who get a stone, 50% will recur.

Passing a stone is usually very painful.  However, many patients can pass a stone with only a “muscle ache” sensation in the back, and they may not be aware the pain was from a stone until it “pops out.”


Kidney stones can run in families, but there are environmental factors for many patients.

Some causes of stones include:

  • Dehydration
  • Diet (too much oxalate, too much protein, or rarely too much calcium)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Gout
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Vitamin C (over 2 grams per day)
  • Calcium supplements if taken without food or if used excessively

Your mother was wrong!  It is now known that a LOW CALCIUM DIET will result in MORE STONES for the majority of stone patients.  It does not make immediate sense but the majority of patients who make stones DO NOT have a calcium problem.  Calcium is most often “just along for the ride.”  It is not recommended to decrease dairy calcium consumption unless you have had a metabolic evaluation that showed high urinary calcium which decreased on a low calcium diet.

Treatment of Kidney Stones

Medical treatment

The role of medicine and diet for kidney stone treatment is mainly for the prevention of future stones or to prevent the growth of  existing stones.  Prevention will be addressed below.  In rare instances, stones can be dissolved.  This is only effective for a smaller, purely uric acid stone and requires frequent medication adjustments and at-home urine testing up to 4 times per day by the patient.

For 90% of stones, there is no proven way to dissolve them or to medically treat a stone that has already formed.

Non-medical treatment options for most patients: non invasive, minimally invasive, and surgical procedures for kidney stone treatment and kidney stone removal.

In general, there are five options available to treat all urinary tract stones.  Kidney stone size and location is an important factor in deciding which treatment is best for you.

Kidney Stone Prevention

Everyone in the emergency room with a stone loudly proclaims “I will do anything to avoid another stone.”  In reality, very few people will stay on a prophylactic treatment program for many years.  Once they feel better, they stop therapy until the next painful stone.  The average person who passes a small stone without the need for a procedure (whether it is his first stone or it has been many years since the previous stone) will not benefit much from specific testing and treatment.  They are also unlikely to stay on any treatment recommended.

Kidney stone prevention is most important for patients with recurrent stones, multiple stones at one time or patients with very large or difficult to treat stones.  Testing includes a 24-hour urine collection, blood testing and chemical analysis of the stone if possible.  The possible treatments include diet changes (usually low oxalate diet or decreasing protein), citrate or magnesium supplementation and occasionally medication.

The information on this site is solely for purposes of general patient education and may not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical care. Consult your own physician for evaluation and treatment of your specific condition.

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