What are urinary tract stones?

Written by: Mr Sam Datta
Edited by: Cameron Gibson-Watt

Between 10-15% of people worldwide have urinary tract stones, mostly aged 30-60 years. These stones - known as called calculi - are hard masses that form in the urinary tract. They can cause pain, bleeding, infection and block of the normal flow of your urine.

In his latest article, Mr Sam Datta explains what the symptoms are, why they appear and what treatment is available to help get rid of them.



What are the symptoms of urinary tract stones?

Urinary tract stones usually present with three symptoms:



Urinary tract stones begin to form in the kidneys and may enlarge in the ureter or bladder. As the stones grow larger, they can cause severe agony. People that experience this typically end up visiting the A&E due to the pain.


Sometimes, smaller stones can create a silent blockage and actually cause damage to the kidneys. As the smaller stones may not present with symptoms, they can be with there for a long time without you noticing.


What causes urinary tract stones?

Depending on where the stones are located, they can be called kidneys stones, ureteral stones or bladder stones. They come from minerals in the urine which join together to form crystals. Some of these crystals then turn into stones. Around 85% of these stones are made up of calcium.


Stones can be caused by being overweight, not drinking enough water and sometimes, eating too much salt.


Some populations are at higher risk of developing stones due to their diets, particularly populations that consume a lot of red meat and animal-sourced protein. Additionally, people that have a family history of stone formation are more likely to have them.


How are urinary tract stones treated?

The treatment for a urinary tract stone depends on where the stones are located and how large they are. There are many different strategies to remove them:


  • Shock wave lithotripsy - this technique uses high energy shock waves that are passed through the body to break up the stone into small pieces. That way, you can pass it freely when you urinate.
  • Laser lithotripsy - if the stones are located in your kidneys, a doctor may opt to use a laser to break apart the stones. This will require general anaesthesia, however, incisions are not needed.
  • Keyhole surgery through your back - if a doctor decides that surgery is best, they small keyhole sized incisions are made in your back to remove the stones.


How can urinary tract stones be prevented?

Not all stones can be prevented; however, if you have a family history of stones, you can reduce your risk of developing them by making sure you drink enough water and reduce your intake of red meat, animal source-protein and salt.


If you have had stones, your doctor will advise you the best diet to help prevent them from returning.


To book an appointment with Mr Sam Datta, visit his Top Doctors profile and check his availability.

By Mr Sam Datta

Mr Soumendra Datta is a highly skilled and dedicated consultant urologist based in Colchester and Chelmsford who specialises in lower urinary tract dysfunction and kidney stones. He is a leading expert in all aspects of the bladder, kidneys and urological conditions which affect men’s genitalia and prostate, and has particular expertise in laser surgery for prostate enlargement. When it comes to urinary stone disease, Mr Datta is highly trained and experienced in treating this condition with minimally invasive surgery and working towards the prevention of stones.

Within his range of specialist treatments, Mr Datta is skilled in both medical and surgical management plans for his patients’ condition, providing top-quality care for each and every one. He also provides paediatric urology services and care for women’s urological conditions.

Mr Datta received his first medical qualification in 1997, at the renowned University College London (UCL), where he graduated with an intercalated degree in neuroscience and a distinction in medicine and surgery. He undertook his basic training on the Hammersmith surgical rotation before going on to accomplish higher surgical training on the Imperial urology rotation. Mr Datta went on to become a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, graduating in 2012 as an urological surgeon with a masters and doctoral theses. Mr Datta is currently a consultant urological surgeon at Springfield Hospital, Ramsay Health Care and East Suffolk and North Essex NHS, where he is also the clinical director for urological and vascular surgery.

Besides his practice, Mr Datta devotes his time to research, including research into urinary tract stones and their prevention. He also contributes to the field of urology through the teaching and training of future urological specialists and is qualified in medical education. Mr Datta pursues this profession today as the undergraduate tutor for urology at Colchester Hospital and holding senior lecturer posts at Anglia Ruskin University and Queen Mary University of London,

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