Kidney Stones in Children
Expert Care for Children with Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are not common in children, but their incidence is on the rise. When painful kidney stones occur, they require comprehensive evaluation and prompt treatment. That is the goal of the pediatric urologists at Duke Children’s. We work closely with kidney doctors and endocrinologists to relieve your child’s discomfort, and offer dietary recommendations to prevent new kidney stones from forming.
Diagnosing the Cause of Your Child’s Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are solid, pebble-like crystals that form in the kidneys and can block the flow of urine. While they don’t always cause symptoms, they can sometimes be very painful. Our goal is to discover the cause as quickly as possible and start treatment promptly.
Kidney stones can run in families, so knowing your own health history can help in your child’s diagnosis. In addition to health history, we use a variety of tests to determine next steps in treatment.
- Ultrasound examines your child’s urinary tract and kidneys to look for kidney stones. It’s a gentle exam that doesn’t expose your child to radiation.
- Blood and urine tests help your pediatric nephrologist discover what caused the stone to develop and how to prevent them in the future.
We work closely with experts throughout Duke, coordinating our efforts to make things more convenient for you. Whenever possible, your child will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists in a single visit. This comprehensive care has earned us national recognition. Our pediatric urology program is the only one in North Carolina to rank among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report every year.
Kids very rarely need surgery to remove a stone, but if they do, you can feel confident in your child’s treatment. Duke Children’s is one of only seven hospitals in the U.S. verified as a level I children's surgery center by the American College of Surgeons. This Level I designation recognizes our commitment to providing the safest and highest-quality surgical care to our young patients.
PEDIATRIC KIDNEY STONES
The best treatment depends on your child’s condition. For example, most children can pass kidney stones without medical intervention. Sometimes drinking water and taking pain medicines will help your child pass a kidney stone. If an infection is the cause, the stones are large, or the stones are causing pain, additional treatment may be recommended to remove or reduce the size of the stones.
This noninvasive outpatient procedure uses shock waves to break kidney stones into smaller pieces so they can pass out of your child’s body through the urine more easily. A sedative keeps your child comfortable and still while a special machine targets the shock to the precise location of the stones.
A ureteroscope is a small, thin tube with a tiny lens at its tip. It is inserted in your sedated child’s urinary tract to locate and remove the stone. At Duke Children’s, we have the most modern equipment. It's specifically designed for children's smaller anatomy, decreasing the risk of injury during the procedure.
Large kidney stones may require a minimally invasive procedure to remove them. A flexible tube called an endoscope is inserted through a small incision into your child’s back to remove the stone.
The odds of kidney stones increase once your child has had a kidney stone. To prevent them from recurring, your child will be seen by a pediatric nephrologist who may prescribe medicines or recommend dietary changes to prevent recurrence. If your child’s diet caused the kidney stones, our dietitian will give you nutritional guidelines to follow and also explain how much and what types of liquids your child should drink for good health.