Ureteral Stones Types, Signs, Symptoms & Treatment
URETERAL STONES- The urinary system in the human body filters blood and produces urine as a waste product. This filtrate (urine) from the kidney moves down the urinary tract through various parts such as the bladder, urethra and ureters to excrete it out the body. The ureters are tube-like structures made up of smooth muscles which connect the kidney to the urinary bladder. The urine moves from the kidney to the bladder through the ureters.
The ureters (paired organs) are usually 20-30 cm long. Several diseases such as urinary tract infections (UTI) and kidney stones etc. can affect their functioning. Small-sized stones produced in the kidney can easily pass through the urinary tract without any difficulty. However, at times these stones may be small for the kidney yet large enough for the ureters to pass through. This results in blockage in the ureters, thereby obstructing the urine flow. This blockage may create a lot of pain and discomfort.
Types of ureteral stones
Different types of crystals result in the formation of such stones. Some types of ureteral stones are as follows:
- Calcium stones, which develop from calcium oxalate crystals. These are the most common types of ureteral stones.
- Uric acid stones, which are formed when the urine is highly acidic.
- Struvite stones, which are formed either due to the high level of magnesium, phosphate and ammonium or due to urinary tract infection (UTIs) caused by bacteria.
- Cystine stones, which develop in people suffering from certain kinds of genetic disorders.
Signs & symptoms of ureteral stones
Various signs and symptoms which indicate that a person might be suffering from a ureteral stone are:
- Intermittent pain and cramps in the abdomen.
- Discomfort and burning sensation while urinating.
- Nausea and vomiting-like conditions
- Presence of blood in the urine (indication of infection).
- Sometimes fever and chills may accompany with pain in the abdomen.
- Presence of blood in urine.
Risk factors of ureteral stones
Some of the major risk factors are as follows:
- People with a family history of kidney or ureteral stones may have higher chances of developing ureteral stones.
- Dehydration (drinking less amounts of water) makes the urine concentrate, increasing the chances of crystal formation.
- Consumption of high amounts of sodium (in salt), animal protein and oxalate in food may also lead to the formation of stones.
- Eating food items rich in oxalate such as beetroots, peanuts, spinach, okra, soyabean crackers, etc. may increase the chances of getting stones if you have had it earlier.
- Certain medications such as decongestants, diuretics, steroids and anticonvulsants may also increase the risk factor.
- Certain medical conditions such as blockage of the urinary tract, obesity, recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) may also lead to the formation of stones.
- People with chronic bowel inflammation are more susceptible to ureteral stones.
- Certain metabolic disorders may also result in the formation of stones.
Prevention of ureteral stones
- Drink plenty of fluids as it will not only keep your body hydrated but also dilute your urine output. Doctors recommend that one must drink at least 3 litres (approximately 100 ounces) of fluids every day.
- Cut down the amounts of salt and animal proteins from your diet.
- Avoid consuming food items that have high levels of oxalate as they may lead to the development of a stone.
- Take medicines as prescribed by the doctor; this will reduce the risk of developing kidney or ureteral stones.
Diagnosis of ureteral stones
Urologists at Yashoda Hospital & Research Centre, Nehru Nagar, Ghaziabad conduct various tests to diagnose the cause of the disease. Various diagnostic procedures are done which will help the doctors to identify the actual size, location, nature and hardness of the stone. These are as follows:
- First of all, the doctors will perform a physical examination.
- They may also order certain tests like urine tests, blood tests, etc. to find out the substances which are producing the stones.
- The person may also be asked to undergo imaging tests like ultrasound, computed tomography (CT scan), etc. to find out the exact location of the kidney or ureteral stones.
- Intravenous pyelogram (IVP) is a diagnostic test which is also used to find ureteral stones. It involves use of iodine as a contrast agent along with X-ray.
Treatment of ureteral stones
People usually prefer treatment without the involvement of surgical procedures. Small-sized stones are usually treated by certain medications, few changes in the diet plan and keeping the body well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. This will help the body to expel out the stone from the urinary tract naturally.
Large-sized stones are unable to pass through the urinary tract resulting in its blockage. Such stones need surgical procedures to remove them.
Here are some of the surgical procedures used by doctors at Yashoda Hospital & Research Centre, Nehru Nagar, Ghaziabad to remove the ureteral stones.
- Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL): ESWL breaks ureteral stones into smaller fragments by using shock waves which are later expelled out of the body naturally. It is the most common type of procedure recommended by doctors and is performed under local anaesthesia.
- Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy: In this procedure, a device called a nephroscope is used to locate and remove kidney stones, by making a small incision in the kidney.
- Ureteroscopic Stone Removal: It is only used when the stones obstruct the ureter either in the middle or at the lower end. A fibreoptic ureteroscope is inserted into the ureter through the bladder to remove the stone or to break it into small particles.
Best hospital for ureteral stone treatment in Ghaziabad or Delhi NCR
Yashoda Hospital & Research Centre, Nehru Nagar, Ghaziabad has the best urologists who offer a wide range of services to treat patients with all kinds of medications and surgeries such as Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL), Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy, Ureteroscopic Stone Removal, etc. for the removal of stones related to the urinary tract.
Dr. Pradeep Prakash is one of the finest urologists and uro-oncologist with more than 13 years of experience in the field of urology. He specialises in performing various surgeries such as nephrectomy (kidney removal), kidney reconstruction surgery, kidney or ureteral stone removal, etc. with great precision and care.