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The kidneys function as a filter for the body, removing waste products from the bloodstream and then removing them from the body in the form of urine. Kidney stones are a buildup of mineral waste deposits in the kidney not removed by urination. Stones can form for numerous reasons, such as an imbalance in the chemical composition of urine, inadequate fluid consumption, poor diet (one high in fats, sodium, sugars), blocked or restricted urine flow, or certain diseases (i.e., gout, colitis, arthritis).

Stones begin in the kidney and may either stay there or slowly pass down the ureter (the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder) to reach the bladder before passing through the urethra (the canal through which you urinate). Stones that are small and have a smooth exterior may show no symptoms and may pass unknowingly, but stones that are larger or have a rough exterior may lodge on their way out of the body.


  • Slight or severe pain when urinating
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Pain in the kidney (flank), groin or abdomen
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections

Patients with kidney stones have a number of options, with treatment depending on the size of the stone, its cause, and whether they are an isolated occurrence or recurring. In cases where it will not cause further complications, the stone is allowed to pass naturally by urination, and is collected for examination to determine its cause.

Other options for treatment are:

  • Changes in diet or fluid intake
  • Decreasing or increasing intake of certain vitamins
  • Medications
  • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL), a non-surgical alternative to stone removal. Shockwave technology locates the stones and crushes or fragments them into fine particles. Patients may then pass the stone fragments naturally with little discomfort.
  • Minimally invasive surgery for unusually large stones that cannot be broken up by ESWL.

For a referral to a doctor specializing in kidney stone treatment at Beth Israel in Manhattan or Brooklyn, call our Physician Referral Service at 1-877-484-3466.

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