Severe abdominal pain is one of the most common reasons for a visit to a 24 hour emergency room–Kidney stones are commonly the culprit. There is an increased prevalence of kidney stones in the United States. Men have higher instances of the condition than women. The risk of developing kidney stones can increase due to obesity and positive family history. They are also related to certain medical conditions, such as hyperparathyroidism.
What Causes Kidney Stones?
Certain substances in your body tend to form crystals. These include uric acid, calcium, and oxalate. Kidney stones may form due to an excess of these substances in the body and lacking liquid to dilute them. Oxalate is present in healthy foods like beets, peanuts, and spinach, and in less healthy foods like chocolate and potato chips. These foods should be eaten in moderation to prevent kidney stones.
If you become dehydrated due to not drinking enough water, your body will work to conserve what little fluids are available, sending them to where they are most needed. As a result, you make less urine, and there may not be enough fluid in the body to break up the crystals that can form in your kidneys. Finally, dehydration can lead to the formation of kidney stones.
What Are the Symptoms of Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones that remain in the kidneys are often asymptomatic. There are usually no symptoms unless they pass from the kidney into the ureter. The ureters are narrow tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder.
A kidney stone may be too large to pass through and can even tear at the sides of the ureter, leading to blood in the urine. It may also block the passage of urine through the ureter, making urination more difficult.
The first common symptom of kidney stones is intense pain in the abdomen, groin, side, or back. This pain is sometimes accompanied by nausea or vomiting. The pain may fluctuate in intensity, come in waves, and can occur in different areas as the stone moves up through the urinary tract.
What Are the Associated Complications?
The main complication of kidney stones is urinary obstruction. This occurs when the stone completely blocks the ureter and prevents urine from passing through, which can lead to kidney damage.
Urinary obstruction can also lead to a kidney infection. If this is present, you may experience symptoms such as chills and fever. If you’re having difficulty passing urine or experiencing symptoms such as blood in urine, nausea, or vomiting of an infection, you should receive immediate medical attention.
How Are You Diagnosed?
Several imaging studies can help to identify kidney stones. Ultrasound is a noninvasive test used to find kidney stones and pinpoint their exact location. Because of their mineral content, large stones may show up on X-ray, while small stones may be missed.
A CT scan is more sensitive and may be able to pick up even small kidney stones. Sometimes you will undergo intravenous urography, which involves injecting you with a special dye that shows up on radiographic images.
The dye travels to your kidneys and bladder, where an X-ray or CT scan can pick it up. Urography can provide a clearer and more exact image of what is going on in your urinary tract.
How is a Kidney Stone Treated in a 24 Hour Emergency Room?
A standard noninvasive procedure used to treat kidney stones is extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. It involves breaking up the kidney stone into smaller pieces that can pass more easily by using sound waves that produce heavy vibrations.
If this doesn’t work, it may be necessary to perform a ureteroscopy. In this procedure, a small lighted tube equipped with a camera and other microsurgical tools, enter your ureter via your urethra and bladder. It may then be possible to either grab the stone and pull it out or break it up into smaller pieces.
If these measures fail, your doctor may perform a more invasive procedure called Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy. This procedure involves making a small incision in your back and using small instruments to remove the kidney stone.
A 24-Hour Emergency Room Visit for Kidney Stones | Community Health 1st ER