Kidney Stone Disease
Your kidneys are two fist-size organs that filter your blood, making waste into urine. The urine travels down tubes called ureters to your bladder, then through a tube called the urethra to leave your body. Kidney stones can form if your urine contains too many salts and minerals. They can stay in the kidneys, become lodged in the ureters, or travel to the bladder.
Causes of Kidney Stones
Several factors can increase your risk of developing kidney stones, including:
- Low urine volume caused by not drinking enough fluids
- Diet that is too high in salt or animal proteins
- Conditions including obesity, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and thyroid growths
- Certain medications, as well as calcium and vitamin C supplements
- Family history of kidney stones
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
The main symptoms of kidney stones are sharp pains or cramps in the side or back that may move toward the groin. In addition, signs of kidney stones could include the following:
- Frequent urination
- Burning sensation during urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood that may turn the urine red or dark
- Urinary tract infections
- Chronic dull aches in the flank or back
Treatments for Kidney Stone Disease at Mount Sinai-Union Square
At Mount Sinai-Union Square, our specialists have extensive experience treating kidney stone disease. Using the newest diagnostics, we gather as much information as possible about your kidney stones, including their size, type, and location. We’ll then explain your treatment options and decide with you which approach is best such as watchful waiting, medication, or minimally invasive surgery.
If surgery becomes necessary, our urologists are highly skilled in the most complex kidney stone procedures. We understand that treatment isn’t just about eliminating kidney stones; it’s about finding the best approach for you that involves the shortest recovery time and preserves function. Our specialists use state-of-the-art equipment and techniques—some of which are only available through clinical trials—to achieve the best possible outcomes.
Our team has deep experience in the full range of procedures to treat kidney stones, including the following:
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL): This minimally invasive procedure is used to treat large stones. A small sheath is inserted through the side or back and into the kidney. Through this sheath a small camera and instrument are inserted to break up the stone and remove the pieces. This procedure can be performed with an incision that is so tiny no stitches are required, and patients can often return home the same day.
- Ureteroscopic laser lithotripsy: This minimally invasive procedure involves threading a tiny camera through the urethra and bladder to the ureter or kidney. A laser such as Holmium:YAG or Thulium is used to break the stone into pieces, which are then removed using specialized devices to trap the stones. This is usually an ambulatory procedure.
- Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL): Used to treat small stones, this is a noninvasive procedure that does not require any incision. A machine focuses high-energy shock waves through the skin to the location of the stone, which breaks into pieces small enough to pass naturally. Many people expect to be placed into a bathtub, but this is not the case with modern ESWL machines.
- Robotic pyelolithotomy or nephrolithotomy: This is a state-of-the-art technique to remove very large stones in the kidney known as staghorn calculi. Robotic surgery is performed through very small incisions (less than an inch). It uses a video camera and small robotic arms controlled by the surgeon. In many instances we can also repair anatomic defects in the kidney that might be contributing to the formation of kidney stones, such as a uretero-pelvic junction obstruction or ureteral strictures.
Kidney Stone Specialists at Mount Sinai-Union Square
Our highly experienced surgeons are fellowship-trained in kidney stone disease and skilled in optimizing the right treatment plan for each patient.