Kidney stones are one of the most common urologic disorders.
The medical term for this urinary tract disorder depends on its location.
The most common terms are nephrolithiasis, urolithiasis, ureterolithiasis, renal calcui, urinary calculi, or urinary tract stone disease.
It is found that men are more likely to develop kidney stones than women.
People who have had kidney stones have chances of developing another one within five years.
Formation of kidney stones:
Kidney stones are hardest mineral deposits that form in one or both kidneys. Kidneys are the bean-shaped organs located just below the rib cage near the middle of your back, on the sides of the spinal column.
The kidneys remove extra water and waste products from the blood, producing urine. Normally, these waste materials dissolve in the urine completely and pass out of the body.
On the other hand, when these waste materials in the urine do not dissolve completely, it become solidify and forms crystals inside the kidney.
Urine normally contains chemicals (pyrophosphates, citrates, and magnesium) that inhibit or prevent the formation of crystals, but for some the inhibitor level will be very low and cannot be able to prevent the formation of crystals. Thus the formed crystals develop into stones.
The crystals generally originate as microscopic particles and develop into large stones over time. When these crystals are too tiny, they pass out of the body through the urinary tract without any harm. However, crystals can build up in the kidney, binds together and forms into larger kidney stones.
The increase in the size of the stone makes it move out of the kidney and progresses through the ureters (the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder).
The kidney stones usually cause no pain when it is inside the kidney, but causes severe pain as it travels from the kidneys to the urinary bladder. However, while passing, if the kidney stone gets stuck in the ureter, it can result in an infection, which in turn leads to permanent kidney damage.
Different types of kidney stones:
Remember that not all kidney stones are alike. Kidney stones vary in color, shape, texture, size and chemical content. The color usually depends on the composition of the stone. Most of the kidney stones are yellow or brown in color. However, they also appear tan, gold or black in color.
The shape and structure of the stone can be round or branch-like with a smooth or rough texture. The stone size may vary from as small as grains of sand to as large as grapefruit.
Kidney stones form differently with various combinations of chemical contents. Most of the kidney stones contain a combination of calcium with either oxalate or phosphate. It generally forms when excess calcium is not dissolved in the urine.
Struvite stone is another type of kidney stone that forms with excess ammonia in the urine due to a urinary infection. Uric acid stones forms when there are high levels of acid in the urine. Cystine stones are very rare type of kidney stones that form when cystine levels are very high in the urine.