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Kidney Stones and Our BCIR Alumni

Kidney stones are among the most painful and prevalent urologic disorder. More than a million kidney stone cases are diagnosed each year, with an estimated 10 percent of Americans destined to suffer at some point in their lives.

For unknown reasons, the number of people in the United States with kidney stones has been increasing over the past 20 years. Caucasians are more prone to develop kidney stones than African Americans. Although stones occur more frequently in men, the number of women who get them has been increasing over the past 10 years, causing the ratio to change. Stones are more prevalent in individuals with ulcerative colitis as well as with individuals with ostomies of any kind (BCIR included). Kidney stones strike most typically between the ages of 20 and 40. If a person forms a stone, there is a 50 percent chance they will develop another stone.

Kidney stones are hardened clumps of microscopic crystals that can develop anywhere in the urinary tract. Doctors do not always know what causes kidney stones, but chronic dehydration (a dangerous lack of water in the body) is frequently associated with this. Someone without his or her large colon is vulnerable to dehydration thus increasing the risk of stone formation. The best preventative measure on a daily basis is to drink adequate fluids. This amount various from individual to individual so if your urine appears concentrated, increase your fluid intake and use a sport drink that is rich in electrolytes to replace losses.

Treating kidney stones depends largely on the size and position. Most stones are passed through the urinary system but more dramatic intervention is some times necessary to eliminate pain and potential complications. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is the most frequently used procedure for eliminating kidney stones. It works by directing ultrasonic or shock waves, created outside your body through skin and tissue, until they hit the dense kidney stones breaking them down into sand like particles that can be passed through the urinary tract system. This procedure can be easily performed on a BCIR alumni.

Another procedure recommended for larger kidney stones that are in location that does not allow for effective use of shock wave therapy is called a percutaneous nephrolithotomy. This requires a tiny cut in the flank area and then an instrument is inserted to locate and remove the stone. Your urologist should know of your BCIR and make every effort to make contact with your BCIR surgeon prior to any intervention.