Kidney stones / disease

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Kidney stone hotline () – please call this number to be seen same day or next business day, if you have or suspect a painful kidney stone but DO NOT HAVE fevers, chills, nausea or vomiting.   If having fevers, chills, nausea or vomiting WITH a kidney stone, these symptoms are very serious and you need to be evaluated in the emergency room.

Kidney stones can be extremely painful.

The pain from kidney stones happens when the stone moves into the tube called the ureter, blocks the flow of urine from the kidney, and the kidney swells with trapped urine.It is the swelling of the kidney with trapped urine that causes the terrible  As the stone moves down the ureter and changes position, the blockage of urine comes and goes, as does the pain.

  • Kidney stones can also cause other symptoms including blood in the urine (hematuria = link to hematuria page), urinary tract infections, and even infection that goes all over the body (sepsis).
  • Kidney stones with infection is a very serious medical emergency and requires a visit to the emergency room for evaluation.
  • Imaging is needed to diagnose a kidney stone.
  • A CT scan is the best imaging modality to diagnose a stone in adults.

Treatment for kidney stones

The Success of passing a stone on your own is unpredictable. Here are some stone passage rates published in one study:

Stone width (mm)

Approximate percent of stones that passed

Mean time to stone passage



8 days



13 days



23 days












Chart taken from Wieder, 2014.  

Urology 10(6):544, 1977 and Am J Roentgenol 178: 101, 2002.  J juror, 162:688, 1999

Even the smallest stone can get stuck and not pass.

Success can be increased by drinking lots of fluids and managing the pain.Sometimes a prescription of tamsulosin can relax the ureter enough to allow the stone to pass.

The providers at Modern Urology are very skilled at surgical treatment of kidney stones.

Options to remove stones include laser lithotripsy, shock wave lithotripsy, and percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL).

Stone treatment is often done at The Stone Center in Denver as well as surgery centers and hospitals.

The treatment options are based on the size of the stone and the location of the stone.

The providers at Modern Urology will discuss the treatment options in detail and together will help you make the decision on how to manage your kidney stone.

A stent is a soft plastic tube that is long (22-30cm).It is long because it needs to go from the bladder all the way up to the kidney.  The stents are very narrow in diameter, is hallow, and has a ‘pigtail’ curl at each end so the stent stays in place—one end of the pigtail anchors in the kidney and one end of the pigtail anchors in the bladder.

  • Fronczak uses new technology stents that soften in the body and are more comfortable than traditional plastic stents.
  • Ureteral stents are placed during a laser lithotripsy procedure, some shock wave lithotripsy procedures, and for any diagnostic ureteroscopy.
  • Ureteral stents are also placed when urine is not draining well from a kidney, such as with a ureteral stricture or other anatomical concern of the kidney or ureters or bladder.
  • Also if using a stent to manage a long term ureteral stricture, many of the new stents can stay in the body without needing exchange for up to 12 months.
  • Most stents for stone procedures are removed in less than 1 week.

Prevention of Kidney Stones

Note: some patients may need to discuss these recommendations with their primary care doctor or cardiologist.

  • Drink 2-3 liters (1/2 gallon) of water per day.Best way to accomplish the is to get a container such as a 24-32oz water bottle or tumbler to keep track of your fluid intake.
  • Add citrus into your diet.To add citrus, squeeze a quarter of lemon into your water or add orange juice into your routine.  Be careful to monitor the amount of sugar intake in the orange juice. 
  • Maintain a low salt diet – aim for less than 2300mcg per day.
  • Watch the amount of oxalate in your diet – often oxalate rich foods (example nuts) need to be reduced if you have high oxalate in your urine.
  • Eat a NORMAL calcium diet.Do not calcium restrict your diet, even if you make calcium stones. A normal calcium diet is 1000-1200mg per day through food or through a calcium supplement.  If you are taking a calcium supplement (Citracal or Caltrate), you need to take the supplement with food to optimize the absorption of the calcium and also to allow the calcium to grab excess oxalate.

Modern Urology providers work closely with patients to prevent stones.

  • We recommend doing a Litholink test which involves doing collection of urine for 24hrs and getting a blood test to best evaluate an individual’s risk factors for stone formation.

Learn How Modern
Urology Can Help You

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The providers at Modern Urology team up with our patients.  We listen, we include our patients in the decision-making process, and we educate them on their condition.  This approach leads to finding the root cause of the urologic problem and success at preventing future urologic problems.  

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We understand that many patients do not want, nor need surgery.  The providers at Modern Urology will approach our patient’s urologic problems with conservative treatment options before recommending surgical procedures, as appropriate. 

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Modern Urology offers the most advanced evaluation and treatment options.  From using the highest quality diagnostic equipment to offering nitrous oxide for anxious patients, we provide superior urologic care in a relaxed pleasant environment.