Overview of ureteric stones

Ureteric stones can sometimes be a very painful condition that causes cramping, burning while urinating and blood in the urine. Each body has kidneys which filter waste and water from the body and drains it into the ureters to be expelled during urination.

Mineral substances such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid can form into crystals called crystalline calculi which can turn into hard stones called ureteric stones. The ureteric stone can become lodged in the ureters and block the flow of urine from the kidneys to the bladder which will ultimately cause the patient painful symptoms.

Ureteric stones are fairly common, some people may not even have any symptoms and the stone will be small enough to simply pass through urination. Other larger stones can cause the patient symptoms of:

  • Painful urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Severe pain/cramping in the back and lower ribs

To diagnose ureteric stones a simple urine sample can be used to detect substances that form stones. Further investigations such as CT scanning and X-rays are able to pick up more of a detailed image of any stones to confirm a diagnosis.

Surgery is always the last resort and sometimes not even necessary. If the ureteric stones are small, drinking plenty of water daily will help the stone pass naturally during urination. If the stone is painful, medication can also be prescribed to help with the relief and control of acid in the urine.

Stones that are causing pain, are large in size and are at risk causing infection and growing bigger, surgery will be an option.

There are different surgical procedures for treating uretic stones such as:

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL)  – A common procedure for treating ureteric stones, it’s a minimally invasive procedure that uses shock waves to break down kidney and ureteric stones so the body can pass them naturally and pain-free.

Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy – A minimally invasive procedure that uses a small thin scope that is inserted from your back and used to remove ureteric stones that are larger than 2cm in size.

Ureteroscopic Stone Removal – This procedure removes stones from the min and lower ureter. Using a fiberoptic ureteroscope, the scope is able to be fed through the bladder and into the ureter and will break the stones up with lasers so they can be passed naturally.

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.