Understanding the Different Types of Kidney Stones

Apr 06, 2023
Understanding the Different Types of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are common, and they can be extremely painful. Finding effective treatment is key to avoiding kidney stone recurrence, and advanced kidney stone analysis can help. Learn more about common types of kidney stones and how to treat them.

Kidney stones are solid mineral deposits that form in your kidneys. They don’t always cause symptoms — but if they move from your kidneys into your urinary tract, they can be severely painful.

Kidney stones have several possible causes, and understanding what’s causing your kidney stones could be the key to finding effective treatment. The advanced pathology team at Path MD Labs can help. We offer kidney stone analysis and urology services in Beverly Hills, California.

Types of kidney stones

There are four main types of kidney stones:

Calcium oxalate stones

Calcium oxalate stones are the most common type of kidney stone, accounting for about 80% of all cases. These stones develop when calcium in your urine combines with oxalate, a substance found in certain foods like spinach, nuts, and chocolate. High levels of oxalate in your urine can increase your risk of calcium oxalate stones.

Uric acid stones

Uric acid stones form when there’s too much uric acid in your urine. High uric acid levels may be the result of a high-protein diet, gout, or some other condition. Uric acid stones are more common in men than women.

Struvite stones

Struvite stones, also known as infection stones, form as a result of a urinary tract infection (UTI). Bacteria in your urinary tract can produce ammonia, which can lead to struvite stone formation. These stones can grow quickly and become quite large, causing blockages, intense pain, and other complications.

Cystine stones

Cystine stones are rare, and they’re caused by a genetic disorder that affects the way your body processes amino acids. The condition contributes to a buildup of cystine (an amino acid) in your urine, which can form crystals that grow into stones. Cystine stones are more likely to develop in people with a family history of the condition.

Preventing and treating kidney stones

Kidney stones can be incredibly painful. And unfortunately, if you get one, your risk of getting another within five years could be as high as 50%.

Treatment for kidney stones depends on the type and size of stone you have, and your symptoms. Smaller stones often pass on their own with the help of pain medication and plenty of fluids. Larger stones may require medical intervention.

At Path MD Labs, our urologic pathology team provides advanced kidney stone analysis. These analyses can determine the makeup of stones, to inform your treatment plan and help lower your risk of future stones.

Along with medical treatment and kidney stone pathology, lifestyle changes can help prevent kidney stone recurrence. You may need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, reduce your intake of oxalate-rich foods, and limit sodium (salt) intake. It's also important to maintain a healthy weight and avoid crash diets, which can increase your risk of kidney stones.

Kidney stones can be painful and debilitating, but understanding the different types of stones and their causes can help you find more effective treatment. To learn more about the benefits of kidney stone analysis at Path MD, contact our office to make an appointment.