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Urinary calculi (kidney and bladder), Definition, Risks, Causes, Symptoms and signs, infection, prevention

Urinary calculi: Definition

Urinary calculi (or urolithiasis) are salt crystals that form in the urinary tract. Kidney, ureter (connecting the kidney to the bladder), the bladder or urethra (connecting the bladder urinary meatus) are involved in the formation of urinary stones.

The small stones are eliminated naturally but the biggest are responsible for pain when they can not be removed: we speak of renal colic.

Risks and health issues of urinary calculi

2-3% of the general population suffer from urolithiasis. Men are slightly more affected than women and the left kidney is more often affected than the right kidney.

In case of recurrence of the crisis, the risk is a breach of the kidney itself with decreased functioning (renal failure).

Causes of urinary calculi

Various types of computations are involved according to their composition. One distinguishes calculations related to the crystallization of calcium, uric acid or cystine.

A high protein diet promotes calculations; a low intake of drinks is causing concentrated urine conducive to the formation of stones. Similarly, certain blood disorders with excess calcium or uric acid promote urinary calculi.

Symptoms and signs of urinary calculi

Urinary calculi may be asymptomatic, form and eliminate naturally it comes to small stones. Otherwise, the symptoms are three in number.


The pain is the first symptom; this is called colic. The pain from the lower back (lumbar) and radiates to the external genitalia. The crisis is brutal and very violent.


The second symptom is the presence of blood in the urine or hematuria. In most cases, hematuria is not visible to the eye but detected by a urine dipstick or analysis. In case of large amount of blood, it can be noticed by the patient.

Urinary infection

Finally, a urinary tract infection can complicate the urinary calculi with burning on urination, more frequent urination and cloudy urine. Fever may occur and aggravate the table (prostatitis in men, acute pyelonephritis in both sexes).

With what should we be confused?

Lumbar pain should not be confused with a "back strain" or lumbago. It is therefore desirable to provide a urine dipstick test for the presence of blood, while signing the diagnosis of renal colic.
Similarly, a strong feeling and renal colic pain may be due to aneurysms of the abdominal aorta.

Will it possible prevention?

The lifestyle measures are fundamental and always recommended.
Beverage intake should be between 1.5 and 2 l l per day (increase in hot weather or sweating the normal color of urine should be colorless or pale yellow).
A balanced diet includes a sufficient intake of calcium (800 mg to 1 g) of animal protein in moderation and not too much salt.

Depending on the nature of the calculation, some guidance will be given specifically, such as limiting the use of chocolate in the case of oxalate or calcium limit if excessive inputs.

When you consult?

The pain is so in case of renal colic that consultation is needed urgently.
In case of fever or anuria (more urine), consultation is also needed urgently to avoid complications (kidney destruction, widespread infection ...).

What is the doctor?

The examination on the type of pain, its location and evolution (crisis ...) is suggestive of the diagnosis of urinary stones. Reactive dipstick dipped in urine, the firm, confirm the presence of blood and / or infection.

Then tests can directly visualize the calculations. This is urinary ultrasonography (hyperechoic images), radiography of the abdomen without preparation or ASP, of intravenous urography (IVU) and finally the scanner or abdominal CT scan. The scanner has the advantage of highlighting other causes of pain (differential diagnosis). Of urinalysis as Urine culture or urinalysis complete the balance sheet, and a blood test to check the concentration of calcium, uric acid and phosphorus as well as renal function.

Different therapeutic options are available, from simple monitoring to surgery through the extracorporeal lithotripsy to dissolve stones. Treatment by natural means also allow extraction or stone fragmentation through the urinary tract.

How to prepare my next visit?
When a single monitoring is recommended, the position calculation is controlled by ultrasound or radiography regularly (a few days to a month or more). Meanwhile, sufficient hydration is necessary.

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