Testing for Kidney Stones
Kidney stones can run in families. Along with an initial physical exam, your health history can help us with a diagnosis. Additional testing may be needed.
Urine Collection and Analysis
After an initial appointment, you will use a urine collection kit to capture your urine over a 24-hour period. The kit can be returned to a lab using pre-paid postage. Results help your urologist determine the cause of your kidney stones. The most common treatment recommendation is often dietary changes. Your provider may also recommend medications or procedures to help prevent future occurrences.
Blood may be drawn to check for certain levels of calcium or hormones that could cause the formation of kidney stones.
3D Kidney X-Ray
This special technology, known as digital tomosynthesis, uses a series of two-dimensional X-rays taken in a single scan to build a three-dimensional image. The enhanced detail requires only low doses of radiation and allows your urologist to more clearly see kidney stones that are as small as five millimeters in size. This is particularly useful if you have recurrent kidney stones. Low-dose CT scans may also be used to help diagnose kidney stones.
Duke Health urologist Chad Gridley explains how your diet can be a big factor in preventing kidney stones. He shares tips on what to eat, drink, and make easy adjustments to keep your body healthy and avoid the pain of passing a kidney stone.
Large Kidney Stone Removal
About half of the stone removals Duke urologists perform each year are considered complex because of the size of the stone, its location, and/or an inability to pass on their own. In these cases, kidney stones can be removed through several small incisions using robotic surgery or laparoscopically. We are one of the highest-volume health systems in the country for removing large kidney stones that are about the size of a marble, or bigger.
Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL)
This inpatient surgery is performed under general anesthesia, so you won't be awake or experience pain. During the PCNL procedure, your surgeon inserts a tube with a camera at the end through a small incision in your back. With X-ray guidance, your surgeon moves the tube to the location of the kidney stone and uses the camera to view it. A special instrument delivers pulses to break up the kidney stone into smaller pieces, which are then captured and removed. The procedure requires an overnight hospital stay. Because there is a chance for small amounts of bleeding if you exert yourself after the surgery, it's recommended that you do not lift anything over 10 pounds for two weeks. After that, you can return to normal activities.