Home   Pathology Centre   Pathology Newsletters   Chemical Pathology   Kidney Stones: A Basic Guide for Patients

Chemical Pathology

Kidney Stones: A Basic Guide for Patients

A Basic Guide for Patients


What is a kidney stone?

It is a kind of a rock that forms in the kidneys and it can either stay in the kidney or travel down through the urinary tract. A stone or rock is formed when certain chemicals in the body cling together. These stones may consist of different chemicals and may be tiny or very large.

Fig.1 and 2, 3 and 4 demonstrate the urinary tract and kidneys and also the path that the stone has to travel to be passed in the urine





Which people are more prone to develop kidney stones?

  • Male Caucasians
  • Obese people
  • People who develop urinary tract infections
  • People with a family history of stone formation
  • Patients who have had kidney stones before
  • People who do not drink enough liquids
  • People who eat a diet rich in animal protein such as milk and eggs and in addition drink alcohol
  • Certain medical conditions and medications

What are the symptoms of kidney stones?

Kidney stones do usually not cause any symptoms unless they start to be passed down the urinary tract. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Excruciating pain in the back or side
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in the urine
  • Fever and chills

What different kinds of stones can one find?

Calcium oxalate stones are the most common kidney stones encountered. They are caused by many different mechanisms which include kidney function abnormalities, genetic issues and high serum calcium levels.

Struvite stones are more commonly found in females and are generally caused by urinary tract infections. These stones can be very big and can harm the kidney affected.

Uric acid stones contain the breakdown products of animal proteins and may be caused by eating too much animal protein, drinking alcohol which interferes with the excretion of uric acid, kidney issues or, rarely, be inherited.

Cystine stones are very rare and are caused by an inherited kidney disease, cystinuria.



Fig.5 Example of a staghorn kidney stone.

Fig.6 Illustrates the different forms, shapes and sizes of kidney stones that can be found


How can I prevent any future kidney stones from developing?

  • Increase your consumption of water to at least 6 to 8 glasses of water daily
  • Eat less salt, animal protein and eggs

Fig.7 An attempt must be made to recover the stone that is passed to enable the laboratory to analyze its content



Figs.8 and 9 emphasize the importance of the intake of sufficient water for the prevention of future stone formation




This patient information newsletter was compiled using the guidelines of the American Kidney Fund and the National Kidney Foundation: A to Z Health Guide Item. Various internet images were also included.

Download this article in PDF format - Kidney Stones Patient Newsletter July 2010