What Is Urolithiasis?

Urolithiasis, also known as kidney stones or renal calculi, is a common disorder of the urinary tract. It occurs when hard deposits, called “stones”, form from minerals in the urine. These stones can range in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball and typically cause pain when they move through the urinary tract. Urolithiasis is a potentially serious condition that can lead to significant symptoms and even long-term complications.

Symptoms of Urolithiasis

The most common symptom of urolithiasis is severe pain in the flank and groin as a result of stones obstructing the ureter or other urological structures. Other typical symptoms include:

  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Painful urination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and chills
  • Frequent urge to urinate

Causes of Urolithiasis

Urolithiasis is caused by an accumulation of crystallized substances in the urinary tract. These can form either inside or outside of the kidneys. The most common cause of urolithiasis is a diet high in animal proteins, oxalates, and sodium, as well as dehydration. Other factors that may contribute to the formation of stones include:

  • A family history of kidney stones
  • Kidney, bladder, or urinary tract infections
  • Gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease
  • Certain medications
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes or gout

Diagnosis and Treatment of Urolithiasis

Urolithiasis is typically diagnosed using imaging techniques such as ultrasonography, computed tomography, or X-ray. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment typically involves supportive care and pain management, as well as lifestyle modifications such as increased fluid intake and dietary changes. If needed, medications and surgical procedures may be used to address the underlying cause of the stones and remove them from the urinary tract.