Health Watch: Treatment options for kidney stones

Kidney stones have been described as the worst pain a human can feel.  Subtle signs of kidney stones include pain on one side of the back or abdomen.  But they can also cause much more than annoying pain.

"Recurring urinary tract infections, bladder infections.  Some people actually have an acute pain episode from their stones", says SLUCare urologist, Dr. Lindsay Lombardo.

Causes include dehydration, obesity, pregnancy, sedentary lifestyle, bariatric surgery, as well as chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, irritable bowel disease, gout, polycystic kidney disease and hyperparathyroidism. Kidney stones send men and women of all ages to the emergency room with severe, one-sided back pain that doesn't go away regardless of body position. Symptoms may also include nausea and vomiting.

This is why Dr. Lombardo wants to act quickly to remove stones.  Before turning to a scalpel, she starts with other options outside the body including shock waves.

"What that does is it send ultrasonic waves to break up the stone and it also has a suction component with sucks the stone while it's breaking."

If the stone is too large for this treatment, Dr. Lombardo turns to a laser.  "And that laser actually uses light waves to break up the stones into small pieces. Sometimes we can dust the stones into little fragments like sand. "

But the goal is to remove the stones quickly and fully, the first time.  "Which hopefully means not that long of a surgery so less that 2 or 4 hours. And we want to make sure we get all your stone out in one surgery."

To learn more about SLUCare Urology and options for treating kidney stones, click here.