What is a Metabolic stone screen – for kidney stones?

A kidney stone is a hard deposit of minerals and salts that develops within the kidneys. These stones can affect people of any age however they are more likely to occur between the ages of 30-60, affecting around 1 in 10 of the population.

Around 50% of patients that develop kidney stones will develop further recurrent stones however this risk can be reduced in the majority of people by following the lifestyle changes that broadly include an increased fluid intake, reducing salt intake and using a well-balanced, healthy diet. However, despite these changes some patients develop further stones or have a strong family history of stones or develop stones at a very young age.  This is where metabolic stone screening comes in.

This is an investigation that can help to identify the cause of the stones and hence allow us to direct specific drug therapies to  reduce the risk of further stones occurring.

What does a metabolic stone screen include? 

A metabolic stone screen includes:

  • Urine dipstick – this is done to measure the pH of the urine and to see if there is blood or protein present in the urine.
  • Blood test – the blood collected can be tested to assess if there are any abnormal levels of minerals in the blood (if there is this could lead to more stones forming).
  • Stone collection – if possible the stones can be sent to a lab to assess what it is made up of and therefore what the possible causes could be.
  • 24-hour urine sample – this is usually performed a few weeks after the stones have been removed/passed and measures the chemical constituents of the urine that can be responsible for stone formation.

Once these tests have been conducted your urologist will be able to identify the possible cause of the stones formation. They will recommend specific lifestyle  changes that can help and may offer targeted drug therapy as well

If you have a history of kidney stones, but not had a metabolic stone screen, here are some tips you can follow:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to ensure the regular passage of dilute urine
  • Reduce salt intake “cook with it but don’t add it at the table”
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet – rich in fruit & veg and fibre
  • Maintain a healthy weight and do not diet too quickly

If you would like to speak to Mr Ken Anson about a metabolic stone screening please contact our team.

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.