A ureteral stone can block the flow of urine in one or both of the ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder). This usually results in significant pain and discomfort. It is a very common, and very treatable problem. However, if a ureteral stone goes unaddressed, the issue may potentially result in loss of kidney function, sepsis, or death.
At Comprehensive Urology, our team of expert urologists is happy to help patients identify and treat ureteral stones and other urological issues. We help patients manage ureteral stone pain and determine the best way to eliminate this issue.
What Is a Ureteral Stone?
A ureteral stone forms inside the kidney and then moves into the ureter. It consists of hard deposits of minerals and salts, along with crystal-forming substances such as calcium, oxalate, and uric acid.
A ureteral stone is a type of kidney stone, but it is important to note that ureteral and kidney stones are not identical in location. A ureteral stone obstructs the ureter, and as such, often causes immense pain. Comparatively, a kidney stone can develop anywhere in the kidney and may not cause symptoms until it moves around the kidney or enters the ureter.
Ureteral Stone Risk Factors
There are many risk factors associated with ureteral stones, and these include:
- Family History: An individual may be more susceptible than others to ureteral stones if a parent, sibling, or other blood relative previously developed ureteral stones.
- Dehydration: A lack of sufficient water intake increases a person’s risk of ureteral stones. This is the single most important risk factor in most cases.
- Diet: Maintaining a diet that is high in animal protein (white or red meat), sodium (salt), oxalate, or sugar raises a person’s risk of ureteral stones.
- Digestive Diseases and Surgery: Inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, and gastric bypass surgery alter the digestive system, and as a result, may lead to ureteral stones.
- Medical Conditions: Cystinuria, renal tubular acidosis, hyperparathyroidism, and certain urinary tract infections (UTIs) may increase an individual’s risk of ureteral stones.
Symptoms of Ureteral Stones
Common ureteral stone symptoms include:
- Pain in the lower abdomen, groin, side, and back
- Pain on urination
- Pain the occurs in waves and fluctuates in intensity
- Persistent need to urinate
- Frequent urination
- Pink, red, or brown urine (blood)
- Cloudy urine
An individual who experiences one or more of the aforementioned symptoms should consult with a doctor immediately. That way, this individual can receive proper ureteral stone diagnosis and treatment.
Ureteral Stone Diagnosis
Ureteral stone diagnosis first involves a physical examination. Various tests then may be used to further evaluate a ureteral stone. These tests include:
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan
The aforementioned tests enable a urologist to differentiate a kidney stone from a ureteral stone. They may also help a urologist determine the exact size and location of a stone.
Ureteral Stone Treatment Options
Common ureteral stone treatments include:
Ureteroscopy: Involves the use of a long, thin fiber optic scope with different inserted instrument to locate and break and/or remove a ureteral stone. During a ureteroscopy, a surgeon uses a laser or small basket to break and remove a ureteral stone.
Extra-Corporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL): Involves the use of shock waves to treat a ureteral stone. With ESWL, a surgeon locates a ureteral stone via X-ray. Next, a surgeon administers shock waves via lithotriptor; this machine helps a surgeon shatter a ureteral stone. After a ureteral stone is broken up, the remaining pieces can pass through the urinary tract more effectively than ever before.
Percutaneous Nephrostolithotomy (PCNL): Involves the use of small incisions in a patient’s back to gain access to the inside of the kidney and break and remove large stones. The procedure enables a surgeon to create a small tunnel to access and treat kidney stones and also some ureteral stones in certain circumstances.
Comprehensive Urology allocates time and resources to teach patients about the different types of ureteral stone treatments, and this enables patients to understand exactly what to expect during treatment. Additionally, our approach allows patients to ask questions and receive extensive treatment insights so they can determine the best course of action.
Choose Comprehensive Urology in Los Angeles for Ureteral Stone Treatment
Finding the best way to treat a ureteral stone sometimes can be difficult, particularly for those who are experiencing this problem for the first time. Fortunately, Comprehensive Urology in Los Angeles helps individuals alleviate the pain and stress commonly associated with ureteral stone treatments. Our team of urological experts works with patients, learns about their symptoms, and offers personalized treatment recommendations. To learn more, please contact us today at (310) 499-2756 to schedule a consultation with one of our friendly, knowledgeable urologists.