At the International Kidney Stone Institute, our goal is nothing less than the cure.


How is a kidney stone diagnosed?

The diagnosis of a kidney stone begins with a thorough medical history and physical exam.  Your urologist will gather information about current symptoms, prior stone episodes, past illnesses, current medical conditions, medications, dietary habits and family history.  A physical examination will be performed to evaluate for signs common in kidney stone patients, such as pain in the flank, lower abdomen or groin.

Urinalysis will be performed to look for blood, infection or crystals in the urine.  It is common to see microscopic traces of blood in the urine when a kidney stone is present, especially when it is moving down the ureter.  A sample of blood will be sent for analysis to check the function of the kidneys and/or for the presence of infection.

The definitive diagnosis of a kidney stone is made with X-rays.  A simple X-ray (KUB) may be adequate for diagnosis, since most urinary tract stones are visible.  However, stones composed of uric acid may be difficult to identify.  If a simple X-ray film does not provide enough information, an IVP (intravenous pyelography) or a CT (computed tomography) scan may be ordered.   An IVP consists of injection of a contrast dye into a vein in the arm followed by a series of X-rays taken as the dye flows through the kidneys, ureters and bladder.  A CT scan without the use of contrast dye is often the best test for diagnosis, as nearly all types of stones are detectable. Moreover, it allows in-depth visualization of the kidneys, ureters and bladder, as well as adjacent organs, such as the intestine.  In fact, the use of CT scans to diagnose other medical conditions often leads to the incidental discovery of stones in the urinary tract.

Identification of the location, size and number of stones will help determine the best treatment approach.

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