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Kidney stone

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Kidney stones are solid accretions (crystals) of dissolved minerals in urine found inside the kidneys. Also known as nephrolithiasis, urolithiasis or renal calculi. They vary in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. Kidney stones typically leave the body in the urine stream; if they grow relatively large before passing, their jagged crystalline shape can cause severe pain in the ureters and urethra. Because the urethra is longer in males than in females, kidney stones are more likely to be a severe problem for men than for women.

Consumption of too much calcium can aggravate the development of kidney stones, since the most common type of stone is calcium oxalate. The calcium renders these stones radio-opaque and they can be detected by an KUB. Other examples of kidney stones include struvite (magnesium, ammonium and phosphate), uric acid, calcium phosphate, or cystine (the amino acid found only in people suffering from cystinuria[?]). There are many types of kidney stone, and a person may be susceptible to only some of them.

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Symptoms

Kidney stones are often idiopathic and asymptomatic until they start to move, but symptoms can include acute renal colic, nausea and vomiting, restlessness, dull pain, hematuria, and possibly fever.

Treatment

Treatments include dietary modifications (including the advice to drink plenty of water), medications, and use of a lithotriptor. Surgery is rarely used to remove kidney stones; instead pain management[?] is used while waiting for the stone to pass on its own. However, in severe cases, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy[?], retrograde intrarenal surgery[?], percutaneous nephrolithotripsy[?], or open surgery may be necessary.

More Information Kidney stones are unrelated to gall stones[?].

Isaac Asimov suffered from kidney stones, and wrote about how his pain was treated with morphine, saying that he feared becoming addicted to it if he ever needed it again.

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