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Kidney Stones

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Out of every thousand people in the United States, one person can say that they have experienced one of the most painful episodes one can go through. Some have said that compared to this, pregnancy is easy. Over half a million people will experience kidney stones this year, and a third of them will be hospitalized.

Kidney stones are hard, crystalline deposits in the kidney. They are usually hexagonal, eighty percent of which are made of calcium. These calcium stones are two to three times more common in men, and are most likely to reoccur. The calcium oxalate versions most likely result from eating specific food. One percent of stones are cystine stones, which have to do with the hereditary disorder cystinuria. Struvite makes another small percentage, and grow very large primarily in women, producing kidney damage and obstruction of the urinary tract. Struvite stones consist of magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate, and are also called infected stones because they only form in infected urine. Another 8 percent of stones are made of uric acid, and half of the men that have this also have gout. These stones vary in size from microscopic to an inch in diameter.

There are several symptoms of kidney stones. One is slowly increasing pain in the lower back and pelvis area, eventually leading to the groin. A constant urge to urinate is also a symptom. One of the more obvious ones is blood in the urine. Nausea, vomiting, abdominal distention, chills, and fever occasionally occur. And finally, family or personal history of kidney stones, because kidney stones are partially hereditary.

Luckily, after the excruciating occurrence, the stone usually doesn't damage anything. Sometimes there comes a situation where the kidney stone either becomes too big or for some reason gets wedged in the urinary tract and the pain worsens. Also, the urine begins to get backed up, and the bladder and urinary tract begins to get infected. Thus, an operation must be performed. Originally, they were removed, either by slicing the bladder or kidney open, or by shoving an instrument up the ureter. Fortunately, through the miracles of technology, one does not necessarily have to go through this "invasive" treatment. Instead, there is a treatment that uses shockwaves to slice up the stone. This is called kidney stone lithotripsy. A large machine uses sound waves to break up the stone into small fragments that can be more easily passed through.

Lithotripsy can be



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