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.


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.

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