Kidney Stone Treatment in Plano, TX
Kidney stones are a serious condition that sends more than half a million people to the emergency room every year. Not only do they cause pain, but kidney stones can block the urinary tract, leading to severe infection. Urologist Michael G. Wierschem, MD has extensive experience with kidney stone treatment and prevention. He has access to the latest and most innovative treatment options including lasers and ESWL lithotripsy. In most cases, patients with active stones will be seen within 24-48 hours.
If you’re struggling with pain or discomfort that may be caused by kidney stones, don’t wait to see a specialist. Contact urologist Michael G. Wiershcem, MD today to schedule an appointment in Plano or McKinney and begin treatment. A member of the American Urological Society, Dr. Wierschem has over 20 years of urologic experience in the Dallas area and has helped countless patients struggling with kidney stones. Give us a call at (972) 596-6733 or request an appointment online.
Kidney stones are small, hard mineral deposits that form inside your kidneys. They affect 5% of the population and are more common in an area of the country called “The Stonebelt”, which covers the southern states from New Mexico to Florida and includes Texas. Of those people who develop a stone, 50% will develop another within 5 to 10 years.
What Causes Kidney Stones?
Stones form when urine contains more crystal-forming substances – such as calcium, oxalate, and uric acid – than the fluid in urine can dilute. Urine may also lack substances that prevent crystals from sticking together, creating an ideal environment for stones to form.
To reduce your risk of stones:
- Drink adequate water. Doctors usually recommend passing about 2 liters a day
- Use lemons in your water as this can decrease your risk of forming more stones
- Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods such as spinach, nuts, berries, tea, cola, and coffee.
- Choose a diet low in salt and animal protein.
- Use caution with calcium supplements. Calcium in food doesn’t affect your risk of stones, but calcium supplements have been linked to an increased risk of stones.
If stone fragments are obtained, they can be sent for analysis. This information can help us decide the appropriate way to counsel patients on preventing future stones. In difficult cases, we may need to collect urine over 24 hours or send special blood studies.
What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Stones?
Kidney stone symptoms can vary from person to person. Most people complain of a sharp and severe pain in their back localized to one side or the other. It may slowly evolve over a few days or it may come on quickly. The pain may radiate down into the abdomen and groin or even cause nausea and vomiting. Some patients will note blood in their urine or very dark urine.
Types of Kidney Stones
Calcium Oxalate Kidney Stones
Calcium oxalate kidney stones account for over 80% of all stones. These are usually seen on a plain x-ray film if they are large enough. Calcium can also combine with other elements like Phosphate to form stones. At this time no known medication will dissolve this type of stone.
Uric Acid Kidney Stones
In high enough concentrations, uric acid can crystallize out to form stones. Uric acid kidney stones can be difficult to see on plain x-ray. A CT scan is sometimes needed to appropriately see these stones before rendering any treatment. They are mostly seen in patients who have a high protein diet or suffer from gout. Dietary recommendations can be effective, however, many times medication is utilized to dissolve a stone or prevent its recurrence.
Struvite or Infection Kidney Stones
Struvite kidney stones are typically found in people who have recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI’s). Many times there is no pain from the stone however, the infection continues to come back despite appropriate treatment with antibiotics. These stones are usually well seen on plain x-rays and respond effectively to treatments.
Testing for Kidney Stones
A plain x-ray may show an obvious stone, however, if no stone is seen and the symptoms are consistent with a kidney stone, a CT scan may be needed. These special x-rays help find a stone that is too small to be seen or is invisible to plain x-rays. A urine check at our office is necessary to make sure there is no infection.
Kidney Stone Treatment Options
If a stone is found, there are many kidney stone treatment options available. Small stones will usually pass on their own, however, it is difficult to predict when this will occur. If the stone is blocking the kidney, creating an infection, or causing severe symptoms, there may be a need to intervene before the stone passes.
A small stone in the ureter (a thin tube connecting the kidney to the bladder) can be treated with a procedure called ureteroscopy if it does not pass on its own. This involves passing a small scope into the bladder and up the ureter where the stone can be visualized and ablated with a laser. Larger stones in the kidneys can usually be treated with a procedure called lithotripsy. This is a way to break up the stone in the kidney without making any incisions or utilizing any scopes. The shock waves create very small stone particles that are then passed into the urine within a few days. Most of these treatments are done on an outpatient basis and the patient can return to normal activities within days of the procedure.